Season o’ Sprickets!

Calling all eagle-eyed observers of wild life. Get ye too to your basements, crawl spaces, sheds, garages and other dark, damp corners of your home — We want you to join us on the hunt for camel crickets!

A North American camel cricket caught and photographed in a kitchen in Mt. Airy, NC. Credit: A.Phillips.

We’re received a few reports from the field that native camel crickets (genus Ceuthophilus) have been spotted within the last week in a kitchen in Mt. Airy, NC, and a home in Cambridge, MA.

To date, the vast majority of folks responding to our request for photos have submitted pictures of Japanese camel crickets (Diestrammena asynamora). In fact, we’ve only seen one photo of a native North American camel cricket from a home in Saskatchewan.

The Japanese camel crickets, thought to have hitchhiked to the US sometime in the early 1900s, are slender and leggy, so much so that visitors to our booth at the USA Science & Engineering Festival in April often referred to the beasts I had on hand for show-and-tell as ‘sprickets’ – perhaps due to their resemblance to spiders as first glance.  Who knew?!  The native Ceuthophilus camel crickets are more thick bodied and solid in coloration than their leggy, banded-patterned cousins. Additionally, a keen eye will notice that native camel crickets have large moveable spines all along the tibia of their hind legs; these are largely absent in the Japanese species. Check out this helpful guide to identifying your friendly basement-dwelling camel cricket written by our undergrad researcher assistants, Katlin Mooneyham.

The native camel cricket Ceuthophilus (left) and the Japanese camel cricket Diestrammena (right). Photo credit: Holly Menninger

It’s been a few months since we first issued our request for help and we’re continuing the call –  Have you observed native North American crickets in your home? If so, send us pictures! If you have the Japanese species, still send us pictures! Maybe we haven’t received many reports of the native camel crickets because we weren’t looking at the right time. Or perhaps the Japanese species prefer indoor living and the North American natives like it better outdoors. We need your help to answer these questions.

Take pictures and drop us an email to share your observations. Where and when did you find the crickets? In what kind of habitat were they living? And hey, if you have an abundance of camel crickets and aren’t super-squeamish, pop one or two into a container and freeze them for us. In the near future, we’re hoping to start some genetic research on ‘sprickets’ and could use your help collecting samples from across the country.

This story is bound to get even more exciting – Stay tuned to the blog for more updates. Happy ‘spricket’ hunting!

By | 2016-11-22T13:47:39+00:00 July 23rd, 2012|

About the Author:

Holly Menninger
As Director of Public Science, Holly coordinates our empire of citizen science projects and manages the online science communication here at Your Wild Life. An entomologist by training, she’s a science communicator by passion and practice.

52 Comments

  1. Melissa Ellison July 29, 2012 at 9:12 pm - Reply

    I saw a native camel cricket this weekend while camping at Rocky Gap State Park, Maryland. I wish I would have caught a picture of it! I would have froze it if I would have read this article first. I will freeze any if I find some at my house in WV!

    • Holly
      Holly July 30, 2012 at 10:32 am - Reply

      Thanks, Melissa! Send camel crickets – photos or actual specimens – our way when you find them!

  2. Anne St. John August 24, 2012 at 4:33 pm - Reply

    I get shed loads of camel crickets in my 1940s era garden style condo building in Arlington, VA. The cat usually scarfs them up (except for the hind legs) before I can get them, but I’ll see if I can capture one or two and/or get a photo. I suspect they’re the Asian species.

    • Holly
      Holly August 24, 2012 at 6:49 pm - Reply

      That would be GREAT, Anne! We’d appreciate reports, pictures, and/or specimens!

  3. Mike Maraini September 8, 2012 at 7:58 pm - Reply

    I just moved into my first home in Broomall, PA (a small suburb outside of Philadelphia). The house was built in 1949 and the basement is very musty. I noticed these creatures immediately and nicknamed them “spider crickets”. Sure enough, it’s actually a real thing. I replaced a couple broken windows down there and noticed that they were behind the walls, huddled up against the studs. They also seem to flock to the laundry tub for moisture. I think what I have most resembles the native camel cricket. I sprayed the basement and have been running a dehumidifier for several days. Of course, I can’t find any when I want to take a picture. I will have no problem capturing one, taking a picture and freezing them if I come across them again.

    • Holly
      Holly September 10, 2012 at 5:13 pm - Reply

      Fortunately, the camel crickets come mostly in peace – they (and their frass, the entomological term for poop!) may be a nuisance, but we think they are quite harmless. Typically, they prefer moist environments so drying out your basement is your best bet for getting rid of them. If you do see more, please take a pic and consider sending a few specimens to us! Thanks!

  4. Tammy September 18, 2012 at 2:29 am - Reply

    I saw a camel cricket for the first time this weekend. I was in Harrington, Del. My son caught it and froze it,so if you want it let me know how to get it to you. I’m not sure which one it is. It was outside on the side of a shed. I have a pic that I will try to figure out how to send you. I’m sorry but those things are creepy. I thought at first ot had 10 legs, but come to find out it was eating another one. Is that normal? Do they bite humans or other animals?

    • Holly
      Holly September 18, 2012 at 10:03 am - Reply

      Hi Tammy! We received your email with attached photos – definitely looks like you have the Japanese variety of camel crickets, Diestrammena asynamora. We’re still learning a lot about the ecology and habits of camel crickets. We think they are detritivores (meaning they eat detritus – or bits of dead stuff) so it’s not surprising they would be eating a dead one of their own if it was nearby. They do not bite humans or other animals – so you and your pets are safe on that front! We’ll be in touch by email with directions for mailing us your specimen. Thanks!

  5. Colleen September 20, 2012 at 11:59 pm - Reply

    I have an infestation of camel crickets in my South Jersey home. Scared to death of them. I would say I probably get around 20 a night or so that come out from wherever those things hide at during the day. Sorry no pictures yet… I am too scared to even go into my downstairs at this point.

    • Holly
      Holly September 21, 2012 at 11:12 am - Reply

      Hi Colleen! We’re sorry to hear the camel crickets are scaring you – they mean you no harm and won’t bite. They’re just jumpy. We’ve heard the best approach for getting rid of large populations of camel crickets is drying out the area (e.g. using a dehumidifier in your basement). Thanks for sharing your experience!

    • Kerry April 16, 2013 at 9:42 pm - Reply

      Colleen, we have them too and are also in Jersey. They like damp spots but they also love to eat paper/glue…The glue traps work wonders! We just keep putting them down until they are untouched for a few days…then we know we conquered them. Good luck!

  6. summer goodwin October 14, 2012 at 10:36 pm - Reply

    I recently moved back into my mothers house and turned the basement into my own lil apartment…it took one night to realize I wasn’t alone…….the “spider crickets” as I call them too are EVERYwHERe!!!I see a least 15 to 20 everynight and the lil boogers jump right at me when I try to kill them!I am very happy to learn they don’t bite bc but it scared the bejesus outta me the first time one jumped at me.I think its the japanese one that I have bc of their back legs and striped apperance……glad to know I’m not alone with the problem…but my kids and parents get a kick out of it when they jump n I scream.I don’t think they eat live bugs tho bc I have had 1 lone black beetle I nicknamed Henry for afew months and he comes out eveynight n they don’t seem to try and eat him so I guess its just dead bugs….lol….I’ve just learned to live with them n hope they will die out by winter.

  7. Vern October 23, 2012 at 3:47 pm - Reply

    Live in Winston-Salem, NC and never seen or heard of a camel cricket B/4
    We have ’em here and my wife feels like others, hates them and won’t go
    near one, not that like ’em. Took several pics today 10/23/12 and if good
    will forward to you. These were caught on Tomcat glue traps made by
    Motomco in Madison, WI. Doesn’t eradicate ’em but keeps ’em somewhat
    under control. Wouldn’t dare put one in freezer (wife-can’t blame her).

    • Elena November 1, 2012 at 11:18 pm - Reply

      Also in Winston Salem, and I’d never seen the little guys before either. The camel crickets are annoying and really only scary when you step on one in the dark…or they hop on your neck while you’re sitting on the couch at night…or when they are sitting in the bathroom when you get out of the shower.

      At least they’re harmless!

  8. Stacie Fletcher November 11, 2012 at 12:41 am - Reply

    I feel as though we have been infested with these! The first one we found in our bathroom we sent to school with my daughter with a little impromptu report. Her science teacher was overjoyed at the timing. Albeit cool, we had no idea we would find several more over the next couple weeks.
    We live in Madison, Indiana. They look identical to the Japanese variety. I will try to take a picture of one. I do believe they are migrating from the cellar directly below the bathroom.

  9. KHarris November 16, 2012 at 1:38 am - Reply

    From as far South as South Jersey goes- We have been having “spricket” problems for a year or so now. They have made a home in our garage- which is where we have our washer and dryer; no laundry is being done when the sun goes down in result. As recently as two nights ago we have put down two glue traps, right now they are nearly full with the ugly insects; both big and little. I have spotted one recently crawling away with a piece of dog food. Ew.

  10. JLerch December 15, 2012 at 1:53 pm - Reply

    I’m 60 yrs old and never saw one until a couple months ago, without my glasses I thought it was a giant spider sitting in our sink and when I went to kill it, it jumped on me. I panicked, guess I watch too many sc-fi movies. I found a dead one in the basement about 2 weeks ago, thought the cat got it and today a small one in our bath tub. We keep a de-humidifier set at 50% in the basement but our house, built in the late 1800s has stone basement walls and lots of little spaces for them to come it. If I can I will try to get a photo, it is nicer knowing they can not harm us.

  11. Tracy January 8, 2013 at 6:44 pm - Reply

    Saw one a few days ago at a house I am buying. So if I see anymore, I will save’em for you!

    • Holly
      Holly January 9, 2013 at 11:05 am - Reply

      That would be awesome, Tracy! Drop us an email when you do!

  12. jaime March 7, 2013 at 11:40 pm - Reply

    Greensboro, MD… I hate this creatures, almost as much as the weird horn insect that looks like a large stink bug, but deadly bite. Anyways, we have the Japanese sprickets here, but we also have light tan, almost translucent ones and black ones. I have came across about 5-10 black ones, that were actually large enough to mistake as a trantula type spider. Very strange creatures, and I love spiders, but these freak me out!

    • Lea Shell
      Lea Shell April 17, 2013 at 1:50 pm - Reply

      Wow Jaime! Those sound really interesting! We’d love to see a picture! Snap a few and email them to yourwildlife@gmail.com with a more detailed location and we’d love to include them in our database of images!

  13. Susan Cahalane May 28, 2013 at 2:03 pm - Reply

    Hi! I just found 2 in my house, I sent you 3 pics of them. Looking forward to reading about the results of your research!

    ✿Sue✿
    Science for Kids Blog

  14. theresa June 9, 2013 at 9:51 pm - Reply

    Today at work in salem nh i was sitting on the steps outsode and i happened to look down and saw one! It was the size of my palm. I wish i could of taken a picture but i had no odea of it would bite me or what it even was so i just jumped up freal quick and it hopped away pretty far in one leap.

  15. Heather July 3, 2013 at 1:11 am - Reply

    Over the last couple of weeks we have recently had a problem with these odd insects. We live in oklahoma and were terrified of what we assumed was a spider at first glance. I will say we have no damp areas, no basement or debri outside. We have a pest control service that sprays around our home, and are very clean. I’m now wondering what else we could do to eliminate the camel cricket. Also caught two alive (to show our pest control tech) and within seconds the larger of the two was attacking and consuming the other which was very much alive at the time. I am now full of questions and nervous about the possibility of my small child being bit. I would be glad to send pics or frozen critters if still interested. Any further info is appreciated.

  16. Velvet September 8, 2013 at 3:20 am - Reply

    Haha! I’m not alone in the fight to keep my house pest free!
    “Sprickets, spider crickets, cat food or a fishermans dream bate!” I DON’T care what you call them they are nasty little (small, medium, large and oh my heavens its trying to hide under my feet size!) Critters!
    I live in INDIANA. I have had these boogers since I moved into this old house. I live in a town that was flooded several years ago. And yes I mean the entire town. Everyone here is infested with themit is just something that we have learned to have to live with it. No matter how hard we try they’re here every season. As soon as it rains real good, we end up with seeing one or two, and then Bam! There everywhere! I will send you the pic I have of one! I can’t catch them though, I have a horrible phobia of spiders or anything that looks like them. And on top of that these freaky freaky critters like to try to hide under my feet! Send me an email and I’ll try to get you as much information as I can about them! maybe I can get one of my boys to catch you a few and send’em your way!
    Oh! And I’m wondering why this one looks a bit like both kinds?!?!?

  17. James Foulk Jr September 11, 2013 at 8:09 pm - Reply

    My boss is from del. He says there poluted. With the ill see if he’ll grab a few

  18. larry baggett September 20, 2013 at 5:01 pm - Reply

    I live in Waldorf, Maryland. We have had “Spickets” for about ten years. This year we have only seen about three “Spickets” all year.

    Have other areas seen a decline in the number of “Sprickets”?

    I wonder if it is because of this years brood of cicada’s.

  19. Angela Palladino October 16, 2013 at 8:14 am - Reply

    Just spotted a spricket in my house. Tried to grab him but he jumped at me then under the dresser. Mom says she has seen several in the basement. I live in NJ and have heard they are populated down the shore but we live in land. This is the first time I have ever seen one in my house.

  20. alena November 21, 2013 at 1:07 pm - Reply

    I get them in my basement every year. I live in southern maryland. Chesapeake bay region. They are so freaky and can really jump high.

  21. Shannon November 23, 2013 at 4:20 am - Reply

    I live in south New Jersey and I’ve just starred getting them more and more!! They drive me nuts! My bedroom is in the basement and I find like 4 a night, in my bed, on the dresser fast little things! I dog loves to chase them though. :)

  22. Kathleen November 27, 2013 at 2:59 pm - Reply

    I live in Suffolk County Long Island NY– we have tons of these, they invade our basement.

    Best way to handle is glue traps designed for mice or rats. After a week or so, there are dozens stuck to the trap.

    Easy to discard ( and you don’t have to worry about them jumping on you!)

  23. John December 5, 2013 at 11:39 pm - Reply

    I live in south Jersey and they are everywhere, literally. I seem to always see n kill the Japanese species. My dog chases them when they come in the house so i have to get them before she tears up whatever they are hiding in or under.

  24. CN December 10, 2013 at 11:21 am - Reply

    To kill camel crickets in our basement just north of Baltimore Maryland, I put a pint mason jar on the bathroom floor half-filled with a mixture of 1/4 molasses and 3/4 water. Within a week, the jar held about 12 dead ones! So I dumped the contents of the jar into the toilet and flushed. Repeated the process 3 times. The last time there was only one camel cricket in the jar. That was 2 months ago, and I have not seen any in the basement since.

    Tried the same in our garage, using a bucket. Caught and drowned only a few. There must be 1000 in the garage, on the walls and everywhere!

    So we cleaned the garage, got rid of alot of stuff, cleaned out the gutters, left the doors open a few days to make the garage as dry as possible. Then we put diatomaceous earth all around the base of the walls inside the garage, which I heard would cause desiccation and death of any insect that touched the stuff. But this did not kill any camel crickets! Our son won’t go into the garage because they jump on him!

    What shall I do next? I want them out of my garage!

  25. mary December 19, 2013 at 7:58 pm - Reply

    I live within a mile of Oyster Creek Power Plant and first thought the crickets here have mutated I now know it’s worse then that! THEY JUMP HIGHER! Freak me out. The state of Delaware can hear me scream. Wish I had a tazer! Ready to move to Alaska! We have the Japanese kind so says my husband. Why anyone would get that close to check boggles the mind! Will send pic. Glad they don’t bite! Hate these buggers!!!!

  26. Mary August 10, 2014 at 12:00 pm - Reply

    I live in a finished condo townhouse in St. Louis MO. I have seen a few of these a year in the past 5 years I’ve lived here. Then months will go by and I see none. My basement is finished and very clean. But I have paneling half way up walls painted gray by me that the previous homeowner put up. Recently I heard water dripping in a corner of the basement behind paneling. Now I know why the paneling is up!! I am convinced there are foundation cracks behind it and there is a opening in corner where I think they come in. Just recently we’ve had alot of rain here and high humidity and I’d see 3 to 4 a day!! I can’t stand them and it makes me feel like my place is dirty or something but I know now thats not the case. ANYWAY- I bought 4 ROACH HOTELS and put them around in basement. One right by paneling opening- within 2 days I have 2 big dead ones but I did have to kill a little one!! So its working but I’m still gonna get some roach spray and spray the hell out of that corner then put fan on it then caulk with silicone.

  27. nancy September 3, 2014 at 12:05 pm - Reply

    When I go out to the porch at night I take my broom with me and sweep these crickets off of my cement porch. There are big ones and little ones. What’s freaky is how they jump at me and of course I shriek
    I’m very glad to know that they don’t sting or bite because I was beginning to wonder if one night they might wait in ambush for the woman with the broom! I will try to send a picture sometime. Alabama is where I live.

  28. Rikki September 10, 2014 at 11:57 pm - Reply

    I’m moving into my grandmothers basement apartment and as I was checking out my new bedroom I saw only one. It was monsterously humungo and terrifying. My grandma says she sees a few every once in a while and that’d she would call an exterminator before I moved in… Do exterminators actually get rid of them? What about dehumidifiers?i don’t know If I can handle cleaning up the sticky traps I might freak out . I’m so scared of them!!!! I would really like an honest answer from someone who knows about them because if I can’t get rid of them I’m not going to move in so I would have to find a different home ASAP.

    • Holly
      Holly September 11, 2014 at 9:26 am - Reply

      Rikki, the best thing you can do is dry out the space — We’ve found dehumidifiers work really well for that! Good luck!

  29. Susan September 24, 2014 at 7:53 pm - Reply

    I have the native Sprickets congregating in my spa bathtub in a dark guest bathroom. I live on a slab rancher in Columbia, Maryland. I found the remains of three of them (parts strewn all over the bathtub) with four alive ones congregating around the drain. There is no water dripping, and they are far from the spicket. I tried to use the lavatory at 4 am the other night and to my misfortune found one holding guard in front of the bathroom doorway in the hallway. As I inched along the wall slinked into the bathroom not taking my eyes off the little centarriun (spelling?) as not to disturb it (until I got out my handy can of RAID), I finally had to leave the toilet (while I was there, that was where I noticed the other relatives in the bathtub having a gay old party or a pinnochle game of sorts. Well, the damn thing in the hallway gets wind of my motion and of course springs sky high to my left pajama leg (why do they always jump towards you and now away from you like most bugs that have sense), so I screamed (luckily i live alone at 4 am) and kicked my left leg so hard I felt a tear and heard a pop. SO, now i am hobbling around because of the damn thing, plus he or she is nowhere to be seen. Great, one in camoflage (spelling?) now hiding amonst the inhabitants of my home (my dog, bird and I.) So, as I get out the handy can of Raid I have to hide behind the shower curtain while I spray each and everyone as I am doing this I am guarding myself with the curtain like a shield. I hear it jumping all over the bathtub. Well, bathtub check the next day proves successful, They are dead and I am in shock they eat their own too! YUCK! Well, I get lucky and the one that got away finally shows up the next night in the living room on the wall. Gotcha kiddo. You cause me to hurt my knee and have me house bound with ice packs, i shall cut out your lights deary. Kill, kill, kill. I feel victorious after I find him dead under the countertop chair (bar stool) while vacuming. (even with one leg working) Wouldn’t you know, near the trash can in the kitchen is this baby looking for its relatives. This proves to be an easy kill after the others went down and very uneventful. So now I have these carcases ready to be vacumed up out of my bathtub and a bottle of bleach and a can of comet to scrub down the memory of this fiasco. I do accept well wishes for a speedy recovery if sent!

  30. Judy Williams November 3, 2014 at 10:29 pm - Reply

    I live in Howell New Jersey & just killed the American type of Camel Cricket in the bathroom. This is the first I’ve seen this type as I usually saw the Japanese type when I lived in Central Jersey.. I thought it was a baby Japanese cricket as the body was very short & super fat compared to the other type, so I looked on line to see if it actually was the Japanese type…eww it certainly did make a mess when I swatted it..I was surprised to see quite a bit of red blood..these things are just plain creepy and they jump so very high!!! UGH! I flushed it as soon as I killed it so I cannot send a photo…

  31. bob white December 21, 2014 at 10:12 am - Reply

    I grew up in ohio in the early 90’s they were all over the trailer park i lived in just the north America speies i didnt even see the asian ones till i moved to Virginia so you want to see north America ones go to ohio they are everywhere

  32. Think April 4, 2015 at 10:07 pm - Reply

    We have no shortage of Japanese camel crickets, (sprickets), here in New Jersey.

  33. beth green July 22, 2015 at 2:51 am - Reply

    I live in Chillicothe, Ohio and my basement is full of them! I am very glad to know they don’t bite because I have young kids and they play with them . I am going to try drying my basement out because I can’t stand them ! Wish me luck !!

  34. Catherine E August 15, 2015 at 10:26 pm - Reply

    Hi, I live in Pound Ridge, NY and I recently saw what looked and acted just like a Japanese one- banded legs, jumping, etc- in my linen closet- I slammed the door and haven’t opened it since. I then noticed that on the bathroom floor in my partially finished basement there were three banded legs of an insect and one antenna- as if something had eaten the majority of one and left the rest on the floor. I hope I never see one again, but if I do I will send a picture. Thank you!

  35. Rachel September 18, 2015 at 8:38 am - Reply

    I find at least one every morning add I have to go outside for cigarettes, this morning I have killed two alone, I’ve lived in this house off and on for about 6 yrs and I think every year we have had them, seems like there they’re more seen outside my basement back door and occasionally one issue, they site more then less of themselves it sends like they kinda hibernate but Idk, I just know the easiest way to kill them is with a flat swatter,today I also find a spider on my steps so I killed that too of course, ( I’m a female that doesn’t do bus but I do kill them when given the chance, jus me kno if u want the pix/specimen, I live in Baltimore County Maryland and they ate at my house everyday

    • Lea Shell
      Lea Shell September 18, 2015 at 3:55 pm - Reply

      We’d love it if you snapped a picture before you hit them with a fly swatter! We’re curious what species you may have lurking on your steps!

  36. rhonda September 18, 2015 at 10:50 pm - Reply

    i. hate. these. creepy. critters.

    i live in kentucky, in a house as old as me, both built in 1968. i have an unfinished basement and an infestation of the japanese varety of sprickets. seems they get more active in the early fall. i live very near a creek and yes, my basement is somewhat on the damp side. even though i keep a dehumidifier running 24/7, the spricket population seems to have increased overall since i bought the house 6 years ago.

    my weapon of choice when i see one of these varmits is a vacuum cleaner. i suck those babies into an airtight seal and leave them there until they DIE.

    i have also recently noticed that the sprickets have been coming to visit upstairs more frequently too. i reckon i am writing only to vent, because the battle seems futile.

    for what it’s worth to anyone still looking for a solution to catch a few, leave an empty, tall, small bucket in the basement for a while. the sprickets will jump and land in the bucket eventually. i have onserved that the sprickets can not jump back out. they can only jump or crawl forward, not straight up. leave the bucket (or 3 or 4 or 5 scattered around) in place for a few weeks and voilà, instant spricket trap. they will only escape the buckets if you turn the buckets over and let them out.

    my worst complaint with sprickets is that they leave little specks of spricket shit all around the basement floor. so, i never go into my basement barefoot. because, ew!

    courage! keep up the good fight!

  37. Debbie September 29, 2015 at 3:16 am - Reply

    I live in South Jersey and for the past couple of years have had these spider crickets in my basement. At first, there were just a few, but now there are so many of them! There are all sizes, from tiny little ones to gigantic ones, and they hop all over the basement. I don’t want to kill them, but I’m concerned because they love to sit in the kitty litter and are probably spreading germs all over the basement. Yesterday, I saw one in the powder room on the first floor. That WAS disturbing! I will try to get some good photos to send to you.

  38. TJ Shaffer December 9, 2015 at 3:16 pm - Reply

    Can these spider crickets hurt a dog or cat? And can they hurt humans?

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