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!