Adults are up to 30 mm long, winged, black or brown and have the head and mouthparts inclined downwards. The hindlegs are large and modified for jumping like grasshoppers. Nymphs are similar in shape but are smaller, paler and wingless. Small nymphs can have a white band across their back.
Significant damage may be caused by adults and nymphs feeding on leaves, stems and pods. When black field crickets are present in plague numbers, seedling crops can be thinned to the point where replanting is necessary. At podding, adults chew into pods to reach the seeds.