The camel cricket, an alarming looking creature, resembles a spider more than a camel, though they do have a humpback appearance. If you have never seem one before, they can create quite a shock when found in a quiet spot. Unlike a spider, they only have six legs, but they do protrude in a similar fashion, encompassing the main body with long, muscular limbs.
The camel cricket can present itself as somewhat of a nuisance in basements, laundry rooms and other domestic settings. Camel crickets are classified as accidental invaders, which means they will sometimes wander into your home by accident, but almost always reproduce once they do. They thrive in dark areas, dry or wet. Camel crickets have very little preference other than a small food source, frequently mold, and peace and quiet.
Camel Cricket Identification
Unless you have seen a camel cricket before, it may be hard to identify exactly what this bizarre creature is. Unlike other crickets, they do not sing or chirp. They don’t even much look like a cricket, in that their dark brown spotted appearance is not typical of the green or yellow species. Camel crickets do, however, have large back legs and may be misidentified as an exotic version of grasshopper. These critters are likely to jump towards you in an attempt to scare you from hurting them. They are completely harmless but are quite a shocking revelation to many homeowners.
Camel Cricket Habitat
Like many other crickets, camel crickets inhabit long grasses and areas of loose soil or sand in which to lay their eggs in. They typically frequent areas of warm climates which usually have a high humidity. In America, Camel crickets are most commonly found in southern California and Florida (though not the peninsula) and do equally well in marshy, swampy areas. They will sometimes come into domestic dwellings by accident and may stay for the hospitable and quiet environments that basements and greenhouses may present.
They are also keen diggers and may choose to take up residence in gardens, where dry soil or sand may present grounds for burrowing. Watering can help reduce these conditions in warmer climates.
Life Cycle of a Camel Cricket
Adult camel crickets do not chirp, as they have no wings. Instead, they rely on finding their mates by scenting pheromones. Females will lay these traps for the males to find on their travels. Mating season is usually in the fall, with the young coming into existence in springtime. A female can store her eggs inside herself until warmer weather prevails.
Camel crickets can leap great distances and may take some time before finding another mate. They do mate in a similar fashion to other crickets, in that males will try to court a female before granted rights. This involves flexing and showing off their hind quarters and general masculinity, but is an otherwise quiet affair.
Females will lay eggs into sand or loose soil for protection. These eggs are small and will hatch into larvae, which is typical of many insects. These larvae are laid into areas that have an immediate food source and require regular feeding in order to grow to maturity. They will feed themselves and do not require their mother’s assistance. Unlike other species of cricket, they do not form wings and become fully mature much more quickly as a result.
Camel Cricket and Humans
Crickets have long since been established as a pet in eastern cultures. The camel cricket however is a predominantly wild species and is known famously for their large populations in the Mammoth cave system in Kentucky. For this reason, the Camel cricket may also be known as a cave cricket. They enjoy the dark, damp and humid conditions that caves can present but prefer sandy dunes.
Camel crickets are significant in that they can leap extraordinarily high and far, much further than other crickets. They have also established this as a defense mechanisms and have been known to scare many visitors or homeowners who were unaware of their presence. This can also be increased due to the dark conditions in which they live.
Camel crickets are completely harmless and very rarely cause damage inside a home. They do not sting or bite and are not known to carry any disease.
Camel Cricket Control
If you find camel crickets in the house, you may want to consider first eliminating the problem, then seeking preventative action to ensure they do not return inside thereafter. Greenhouses and other areas that have a high humidity may also be treated in the following fashions.
Caulking: By placing protective screening and ensuring that all exit points are securely sealed, you can diminish the risk of Camel crickets and other insects from coming into your home.
Reduce the humidity: When possible, ensure correct ventilation is used inside your home and monitor greenhouses or places of higher humidity for signs of pests and treat accordingly. Camel crickets will seek out food sources which thrive under these conditions.
Insecticides: May be used to treat the inner and outer home for Camel crickets. It is recommended to use on floor boards, and to keep children and pets away from the treated areas until the packaging advises otherwise. You can also purchase versions which do not have chemicals.
Glue traps: Many professional services use glue traps but you can also purchase them yourself for a few dollars from most shops which have a garden section. Lay the traps down in areas of noted activity and check frequently so that you can remove trapped insects. Always sanitize the area afterward.
Professional help may be sought in cases where these methods may be deemed arduous or time consuming. They do not usually require professional attention but most agencies will cater to them. Many people who don’t know what camel crickets are, are more likely to call for professional assistance when they are easily treatable at home.
Camel Cricket Entomology
Camel crickets belong to the animalia kingdom. They are classed as arthropods and are also a member of the insecta class. Under this, they belong to the orthoptera order, which also includes grasshoppers and katydids. The sub-order is ensifera, which include long-horned orthoptera and are widely know for their family name of rhaphidophoridae, which is specific to camel crickets.