Eeek! You wake up in the morning, and before you have a chance to enjoy your coffee, you’re confronted by a long-legged, spidery bug with long antennae creeping across your kitchen floor. Although it may look icky, there’s really no need to worry: the insect is just a camel cricket.
While camel crickets may be a nuisance, the worst any one of these insects will likely do is frighten you, which may cause you to spill your hot cup of joe.
What is a Camel Cricket?
Camel crickets and closely-related cave crickets, also called “sprickets” or spider crickets, are common household pests found around the globe on every continent except Antarctica and on many islands. In the US and Canada, there are about one hundred species, with the Spotted Camel Cricket being the most common in the US, though the invasive Greenhouse camel cricket from China is outnumbering it and other native species in some locations.
What does a camel cricket look like?
Despite their name, camel crickets aren’t true crickets. They’re part of the Rhaphidophoridae (raph-i-doe-phor-i-day) family, while true crickets are in the Gryllidae (grile-i-day) family. Think of them as cousins — they’re as closely related to crickets as are grasshoppers.
You can tell camel crickets apart from true crickets fairly easily. True crickets have flat bodies and wings, with which they chirp. Camel crickets, however, are hunched backed and wingless as adults, and they don’t have any sound-producing organs, so they can’t chirp. They may be gross to look at, but at least they’re quiet.
True crickets are also typically smaller than camel crickets and darker in color. Camel crickets grow to be about 1” to 1¼” long, and most species are tan to dark brown; some have bands or spots as well.
Camel crickets are nocturnal, so you’re most likely to see camel crickets at night when they scavenge for food. They’re like the goats of the insect world and will eat everything from fungi to plant matter to other insects.
Can Camel Crickets Hurt Me?
Camel crickets can’t hurt you, and they don’t pose any health risks. When disturbed, they’ll leap to frighten potential enemies. Jumping is the only way for them to defend themselves, and it seems to work pretty well at scaring off humans.
At worst, they can become a nuisance inside your home, especially if they invade in large numbers, as they’ve been known to eat clothes and houseplants. Also, their feces can stain walls.
Outdoors, they can damage plants and lawn furniture fabric. They’ve even been reported to have fed on clothesline items.
Why are Camel Crickets in My House?
Inside, camel crickets are commonly found in wells, in basements, and crawlspaces. They’re attracted to moisture, so if you find them it may be a sign you need to dry things out.
Outside, they’re commonly found under sheds and near air conditioner units. They’re also attracted to wood piles and moisture-retaining ground cover like leaf piles and mulch.
How Do I Keep Camel Crickets Away?
The best way to keep these insects away is to reduce moisture in and immediately around the outside of your home. Use a dehumidifier to dry things out inside, and seal off places where they can enter. Also keep your crawl spaces, basement, and attic well ventilated.
Outside, store fire wood at least 20 feet away from the house, and keep leaf piles and compost heaps away as well. Also, direct water away from your foundation.
If these insects have invaded your home or business, consider contacting your local pest control expert to exterminate them, help identify where they’re getting in, and what moisture sources are attracting them.