Monday, November 14, 2011

Camel Cricket

This crazy-looking long-legged bug is a camel cricket in the family Rhaphidophoridae. This family includes cave crickets, cave wetas, camelback crickets,and spider crickets. These crickets are known to love damp areas, such as under rocks, logs, outbuildings or basements. They can also be found in caves which earned them their other common name of cave cricket.

These crickets are characterized by their super long legs and antennae as well as a somewhat hump-backed shaped body. Their hind legs are extremely long with a somewhat chicken leg appearance. They lack wings like other crickets have, and instead crawl to their destinations. They have terrible eyesight so the long legs and antennae aid them in finding their way around in the often dark environments that they favor. It is not uncommon for these crickets to make their way into our basements. They are after the moist dark habitats they favor, and our basements often fit the bill perfectly. If you have an excess of these crickets it could signify that you have a moisture problem that may need to be addressed. Away from human dwellings they are often found deep inside caves. These inhospitable environs often make it hard for these crickets to locate food and it is not uncommon for them to consume their own legs for nutrition, even though they lack the ability to regenerate a new one. When faced with the approach of possible predators they will often lunge at the threat rather than retreat. This aggressiveness is a bluff however as these crickets are harmless. I would think this behavior would be counterproductive in the extreme and would often lead to them sacrificing their own lives in exhibiting such a power play. Then again perhaps it works. 

Adults and young nymphs will overwinter in dense vegetation or in human dwellings. In the spring they will become active and the adult females will begin laying eggs in the soil. In a few weeks the newly born nymphs will emerge looking almost identical to their adult counterparts. The adults and nymphs both feed on all sorts of organic matter, from animal to plants. They can become a nuisance in human structures such as basements when their food source runs low and they begin seeking other sources of food such as our stored clothing, linens and other keepsakes we do not want destroyed. 

 The following was taken from North Carolina's University website. I thought it was helpful info and wanted to pass it along to my readers.

Non-chemical control methods
Although pesticides can help reduce the nuisance problems with camel crickets, they are not a long-term solution. Effective control starts with eliminating harborage sites, reducing conditions that are conducive or attractive to these pests and by excluding these insects from our homes:
  1. gaps around crawlspace access doors provide access for camel cricketsCaulk or seal gaps and openings around windows frames, doors, foundation and clothes dryer vents, crawlspace access doors (picture at right), soffits, as well as where heating/AC and plumbing lines pass through the foundation.
  2. Install weather-stripping along the bottom of house and garage doors so that it fits tightly against the threshold.
  3. Stack boxes and other items off of the ground and away from the walls in a garage or storage building. This helps improve airflow and makes it easier to check for crickets and other pests, including termites.
  4. Reduce moisture indoors, as well as in other critical areas such as basements or crawlspaces.
  5. Keep ground cover and mulch at least 12 inches or more away from the foundation. When possible, use an inorganic cover such as gravel up near the foundation.
  6. Keep ground cover and shrubs away from the foundation and siding. Do not stack firewood against the house. Remove piles of lumber or other clutter under decks that might attract crickets and other pests.
  7. Place sticky boards, such as those used for cockroaches and mice, in corners and behind appliances to catch crickets that enter your home.
Chemical control Outdoors: Any chemical control should focus first on outdoor barrier treatments. Sprays applied to foundation walls, around vents crawlspace accesses, basement doors and windows, and insecticidal baits applied along the perimeter can be quite effective unless there are heavy rains. In crawlspaces, insecticidal baits placed in corners or along the sill plate will be most effective. Spraying in a confined area, such as a crawlspace, requires caution and the proper application and safety equipment. Granular baits are a better choice for use in a crawlspace, but these products are not readily available to the general public. You can or else contact a licensed pest control company for assistance. Consult your county Cooperative Extension Service Center or the North Carolina Agricultural Chemicals Manual for a list of appropriate pesticides.

Indoors: Any of the common household (indoor) insecticides can be applied to baseboards, and areas behind appliances. However, if you follow the steps outlined earlier for excluding these pests, the need for indoor applications should be reduced.


  1. The red markings on that cricket are striking. Eating their own legs? That's a fascinating strategy, I suppose it can pay off in the long run if low resource levels are only a temporary and infrequent phenomenon.

    I am familiar with the camelback variety, I would capture hundreds in my Florida panhandle pitfall traps.

    I don't understand why people would expose themselves to deadly chemicals to get rid of a harmless insect.

  2. I thought this was a beautiful example of a camel cricket as well, that red stripe seems distinctive, but I still could not identify it to species. I know this is a complicated group of insects. I like you, can't imagine exposing ones self to chemicals to get rid of these harmless critters, but some people will settle for nothing less that total eradication of all six-legged creatures. That is part of the reason I do this blog is to change attitudes and teach tolerance. I know most of us don't want bugs or snakes in our homes, so I try to offer sound alternatives to killing. I have a hibernacula in my basement that houses numerous snakes each year and they hurt nothing so I let them stay, then in the spring I put them outside where they should be. Most people however would cringe at the thought of snakes in the basement. I have not had a mouse in the house in 6 or 7 years...I much prefer the snakes.!

  3. Fabulous cricket! Cant get over the size of its back legs!!
    Youre right, they do look chicken-like! ;)

  4. i just found out about these and they are so cool... i caught my first one in my basement and fed it some oat meal and it ate it like its never eaten in so long sadly it died the next day.. im not sure why (poor thing i just wanted to observe it and maybe keep it for a pet) i had a few drops of water in the jar and plenty of holes for breathing ... what did i do wrong?
    it was a male (due to no ovipositor)

  5. I'm hoping to do my PhD thesis on mating behavior of this genus. If all goes well I'll be in MO by next fall!

  6. I am not one to kill insects i normally just let them be however these crikets i do kill one ive done everything possible to keep them out of my basement. two they are cloth eaters so i get tired of putting on one of my good shirts or a pair of socks and it ends up with a bunch of tiny holes in them so killing them yes i do think so