Citizen Scientists Document the Spread of Giant Cricket, Basement to Basement

05camel cricketIt is an animal the size of a pinky finger. It hops wildly, blindly out of the dark.  And still, somehow, it has moved unstudied basement to basement across North America, the yeti in our midst. It is the Asian Camel Cricket (Diestrammena asynamora).

In previous work with citizens, we very accidentally discovered that this cricket had spread much more than we (or perhaps anyone) suspected. It appears to have spread primarily indoors, though it’s also being found outdoors as it hops away from houses to find, well, we aren’t sure. Love? Food? Fulfillment?

We now need your help, but we are soliciting your help in a bit of an unusual way. So far, we have made all of our discoveries about this cricket in collaboration with the help of hundreds of folks willing to investigate their own homes, those folks and one very diligent high school student. As a result of this work, we have written up the beginnings of a paper, which you can find online, here (note, it is very unusual to put a paper online before it is finished. This leaves us feeling a bit naked, but we wanted you to be able to be part of the whole process of this discovery). To finish this paper, we now need more data not just on where there are camel crickets (which our participants have already helped to show us is essentially everywhere — see map below); we need pictures of camel crickets to discern which of these crickets are the native species once restricted to forests and caves but now cohabitating (rather peacefully in some houses, less so in others) or the species from Asia.

Red dots represent positive reports of camel crickets found in homes (N = 420). Blue dots indicate households where citizen scientists reported that camel crickets have not been observed (N = 1,299).

Red dots represent positive reports of camel crickets found in homes (N = 420). Blue dots indicate households where citizen scientists reported that camel crickets have not been observed (N = 1,299).

We need, in other words, your pictures of what lives in your basement and as we get them we will, in real time, update our paper as a reflection of what you show us. You can help us find the giant cricket, help us know it. You, the banker. You, the kid. You, the scientist who just doesn’t get enough science at work.

But here is the cool trick. As the data come in, we will put the data all online so that anyone who is interested can evaluate what seems to be limiting the distribution of camel crickets in general or the introduced camel cricket in particular. Is it climate? Is it forest? Is it just time? If you find an elegant way of considering this question (or even of depicting other aspects of what we are finding), you have the potential to be an author on our paper on camel crickets.  In each step of finishing our paper on these crickets, the paper itself and the process of discovery will be fully public (and this includes the process of review of this work by our peers).

And so when we say that “citizen scientists document the spread of giant cricket,” we mean to say that they have. But we also mean that this process is ongoing, that you can help us to understand this animal. All it takes is a phone with a camera on it (or a camera you can connect to your computer) and the wherewithal to go boldly into your basement or crawlspace or even under your bed.  You could be the first person to record this cricket for your town, city or even state.

So go now and check. We will wait.

Visit our new Camel Cricket Census project page — http://crickets.yourwildlife.org — to learn more and upload your photos today!

By | 2016-11-22T13:47:18+00:00 September 27th, 2013|

About the Author:

Rob Dunn
Rob Dunn is a biologist and writer in the Department of Biological Sciences at North Carolina State University. Central to all of his work is the sense that big discoveries lurk not only in faraway tropical forests, but also in our backyards and even bedrooms. The unknown is large and wonderful and Dunn and his collaborators, students, and postdocs love to spend their days in it.

44 Comments

  1. Jennifer October 7, 2013 at 9:23 am - Reply

    We had one in our basement last week–gross!!

    We live in Saint Charles Missouri

    • Holly
      Holly October 7, 2013 at 9:55 am - Reply

      We think they’re more charming than gross here at Your Wild Life… We’d love for you to share your observations and possibly a pic on our data submission page, Jennifer — You can do it easy peasy here: http://crickets.yourwildlife.org/participate/

  2. […] for the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. But the project that caught my attention was one on an invasive camel cricket that asks for photographs of the critters in your basement in a specific form. I don’t know […]

  3. Michael Werst October 8, 2013 at 10:52 pm - Reply

    I’m a home inspector and came across 3 to 4 of these creatures under a deck in the Lehigh Valley of PA. One was laying eggs. I have never in my life seen anything that them before.

    • Holly
      Holly October 10, 2013 at 11:34 am - Reply

      Thanks, Michael — We’d love to talk with you further about your experience with camel crickets — Soon we’ll be starting a project where we interview folks like yourself who spend a lot of time under houses (e.g. home inspectors, plumbers and electricians) — We think you all might have important information regarding the initial “invasion” of the Asian camel crickets.

  4. Nancy Arnold October 9, 2013 at 6:09 am - Reply

    We have many,many in our outside basement room. You open the door and they jump everywhere.

  5. Morgan Ringer October 10, 2013 at 10:29 pm - Reply

    We started seeing them in our garage within the past 10 yrs. We leave them be. Sometimes one will make it up under the porch door, where they are greeted and promptly eaten by our cats.

  6. E November 9, 2013 at 3:51 am - Reply

    I just submitted a report for you all. Saw my 2nd one tonight in my basement here in Maryland. They are so un-usual because of their large size, long antennae, and arched back….I’m not sure what is going on with all these new ‘Asian’ species arriving, but the stink bugs and these crickets are invading Maryland and they never existed when I was growing up….I also have been seeing a ton of new spider species in my house, but worry that some may be dangerous, like the brown recluse….Have any entomology colleagues who specialize in arachnid identification? ; )

  7. Robin November 15, 2013 at 7:00 pm - Reply

    We have been seeing them this summer and into the fall for the first time. I live on Long Island. They were outside in the summer (garage mostly) but I’ve found 2 indoors and one on my front steps in the past week. Thoughts?

    • Holly
      Holly November 15, 2013 at 7:59 pm - Reply

      Thanks for sharing your observations — They’re probably coming indoors now that evening temperatures are getting rather chilly! Please be sure to submit your observations and a photo on our webform — Thanks!

  8. Crista November 21, 2013 at 1:46 am - Reply

    I have never seen these before till this fall. I’ve seen four in my house in the past two weeks.

  9. Acie wood November 21, 2013 at 4:15 pm - Reply

    I have a million of these things in my house they come out at dark please help

    • Holly
      Holly November 21, 2013 at 4:34 pm - Reply

      The good news is that the crickets do not bite or chirp — they’re just startingly jumpy and can gather in large numbers. The best thing you can do is dry out the space where you’re finding them (e.g. use dehumidifier) — and if you are feeling up to it, you can help contribute to our study of these critters by taking a photo and uploading your observations on our webform: http://crickets.yourwildlife.org/participate/

  10. roxane January 10, 2014 at 8:42 am - Reply

    These bloomin’ things appeared at our Eastern shore home in Maryland about 15 years ago. Started out in a metal shed where we could hear them ping against the walls when we opened the door and then they moved to our crawl space and under the deck and come into the house thru the bathroom. In the house we generally find them in the bathroom or a closet. I read somewhere that they won’t eat our clothes. Just the same I have decided to invest in a lizard this spring for under the house. We have heard them called Jerusalim Crickets, Cave Crickets and Camel Crickets.

  11. Ashley January 11, 2014 at 9:10 am - Reply

    I hate these things! When I was a high school student living in my Dad’s basement in Reston, VA, we had them, I graduated in 1993, I think we had them the two years I lived there.

  12. Celeste April 28, 2014 at 11:19 pm - Reply

    I just recently discovered one of these asian camel crickets in my basement when coming home from school. It startled me so much, that i immediately ran to the bathroom, grabbed the bug killing spray, and sprayed the thing like crazy after it started hopping. It took multiple attempts, but i finally killed it… The thing has a heck of a tolerance for bug poison… I came up with the name grasshopper spider or grider, foolishly thinking that i had just witnessed a new member of a new species of cricket/grasshopper spider hybrids. I didn’t know whether they were lethal or not, but this being the first time i had seen or heard about it, i decided not to wait and find out… Before…disposing of it, i did take a picture of it for future reference, as i made it my goal to try and figure out what the heck this insect was. After loads of research, i now know that it’s an asian camel cricket, I just hope, i don’t end up coming in contact with one again…

  13. Paula July 17, 2014 at 9:38 pm - Reply

    I just discovered them in our shed this noon. I was coming to take some gardening tools from there and when I opened the door I jumped just like them. I never saw nothing so big before and there was about 7 of them. I just shut the door and came back with my husband that evening, but there was no sign of them. Maybe because it got little chili and they hide? Well, I will go back tomorrow with camera and try to take some pictures. I just hope they will not move to the house. I’m not much of “creepy crawlers lover”.

  14. Holly August 26, 2014 at 4:54 pm - Reply

    My husband works for the water company and often goes into wells that are unoccupied for lengths at a time and comes across these quite a bit! We live in southeastern PA.

  15. Michael K September 2, 2014 at 11:25 pm - Reply

    Just recently had these ugly, hideous things down in my basement. For those trying to eradicate them, what I did was use tape. Run a piece of tape that has a good stickiness from point a to point b on your basement floor. I got this idea because I had heard about glue boards/traps and figured why buy them when I can improvise and make my own. As long as a heavy object is (like for point A I used the feet of a ladder to hold the tape)securing the tape it goes nowhere. I know they are a nocturnal creature. In the morning I’d have them patiently waiting for me on the tape. There poor legs stick to the tape and it’s ultimately a lost cause for them to try to escape. It is funny to see them try to jump and go nowhere. Then I’d just simply cut the portion of the tape the cc’s occupied then put them in plastic bags for the garbage. I’d say I had about ten of them total. I didn’t have too many and believe that hopefully they are gone for good. If I would have known about this project I would have been more than happy to have sent a physical sample and submitted a picture. If I should encounter them again, I’ll know better for next time. I live in Kutztown, Pa and have a wooded area directly behind and around my house perimeter. I had also bought the Niban granules and put those down prior to using my tape method. I don’t know if that venture was successful though. I hope my comments will be of help to someone in ridding their infestation cause as I said in all truthfulness tape is a relatively inexpensive means of eradicating these pests. I mean I thought stink bugs were ugly looking but those camel crickets have a face and body only a mother could love!

  16. Ed Cline September 3, 2014 at 8:34 pm - Reply

    We have had them in central MD for I think must be around 30 years. We have always called them Criders. I lived in Waldorf, MD for a few years where we did not have a basement. They didnt care, we had them in the dining room and kitchen. Where I am now in Crofton, MD I have seen 2 small/baby ones in 4 years.. but not the large brown ones that propel themselves 3 feet like in Waldorf. Weird thing about them..spray them with spider spray they will die (eventually).. but their legs fall off. Weird weird insects.

  17. lisa October 11, 2014 at 12:43 pm - Reply

    Have been finding them in our historic home in Northern Kentucky (just outside of downtown Cincinnati). Always in the bathroom directly above our basement. Buying a dehumidifier today!

  18. jea October 26, 2014 at 3:17 pm - Reply

    The pet stores in Phila,Montco,Bucks in PA use these crickets as pet food. I first saw tjem in pet stores. Now they are every where. They are in my basement on the walls.If you try to swat them they jump in your dirrection. They scare me. They are bigger than any other cricket i ever saw in my life.They jump 3ft. I caught one in a jar and measured it to be two inches. I hate these things. I don’t know if they bite. I never heard them chirp but they do make scratching noises.

  19. JD October 27, 2014 at 5:01 pm - Reply

    We owned a home in North Cape May, NJ. While getting it ready to sell, I was assisting our contractor with some required repairs/clean up in the crawl space. There appeared to be hundreds of them, many of them were very small. I assume they just had their babies. I know they are harmless but it still freaks you out when they jump at you.

  20. Kirsten Tautfest May 14, 2015 at 3:54 pm - Reply

    Is this project still going on?

    • Lea Shell
      Lea Shell May 18, 2015 at 1:21 pm - Reply

      Hi Kirsten! Yes — the project is ongoing, have you found some camel crickets recently?

  21. Gina Kranz June 18, 2015 at 12:52 pm - Reply

    I am in a wheelchair & going to bathroom last night one was walking across my living room. I had never seen one before so I thought it was a giant spider! I had nerve damage so I jumped& dropped everything in my hands. I would’ve taken a picture but it was blocking my path. I sprayed it with cleaning spray, it jumped so high (I have no idea where it went) then I jumped so high, almost out of my chair hahahaha this was in Long Island

  22. Donna June 30, 2015 at 12:28 pm - Reply

    I live in northern Kentucky, I have a crawl space and have seen a couple of these under the sink. I hadn’t seen any since April but today there was one in my living room guess my cat caught it cause it had no legs, I found them in the hallway.

  23. Justin July 19, 2015 at 12:33 am - Reply

    My neighbor found one in his garage, looks like its been dead for a while now though. Would post a pic of it, but. No apparent option to do so. I live in washougal washington

  24. Erin Shuff July 30, 2015 at 8:13 am - Reply

    Just saw my first one of these guys this morning in our kitchen. Seemed much darker than these pics show and it was walking, not jumping, thank goodness!! We have no basement here – just moved to the Atlanta area from NY. I swatted it with a shoe. My husband confirmed that it was a camel cricket. Hope we don’t get more or I will be heading back to NY!!

  25. Gina Kranz August 16, 2015 at 6:31 pm - Reply

    I saw another one, in my building lobby on the wall & took pictures if you’d like to see. Came back 4 hours later & it was still there. I’m in Long Island, NY

  26. Nicholas Welch September 2, 2015 at 1:39 am - Reply

    Hello,

    I was just looking into these crickets cause I literally just saw one out of the corner of my eye and killed it but they have been pretty relevant this summer. This is our first summer with the these crickets and we have been here since 2010 but somehow they are getting into my basement.
    The other month I caught one under a bucket and I was feeling a little cruel cause they for some reason. (four in one night in my bed not too happy)
    I left him there on concrete and then two weeks later I lifted it up and he was alive so I caught him again and checked in 3 days he was alive. then 2 days still alive then finally after 3 weeks without any food or water he finally died.
    But I live in East Falmouth,MA 02536.

  27. Krystina September 20, 2015 at 6:16 pm - Reply

    We have about 50 of these crickets in our shed and we find them randomly in the basement. They are huge! Tomorrow we will brave capturing one and taking pictures. When you open the door they are all staring ready to jump at you which often happens so approaching them is hard without having them all on you. It’s almost as if they are a swarm of crickets.

    • Krystina September 20, 2015 at 6:17 pm - Reply

      Our location is South County, St, Louis, MO.

  28. Jeff September 24, 2015 at 12:04 am - Reply

    Have pics of many in my garage if you’d like them. Lexington, KY

  29. joyce england November 18, 2015 at 10:26 am - Reply

    found two in dark kitchen . They didn’t last long enough to photograph. Indianapolis,in

  30. Mandy December 1, 2015 at 10:32 pm - Reply

    I just had one in my basement. Had is the key word. Didn’t know what in the hell that thing was and it hopped past me and scared me!

  31. jon January 11, 2016 at 11:20 am - Reply

    are the nests similar to those of the mud wasp? my shed is infested with these crickets and there are mounds of mud on the wall with burrows dug into them, no wasps ever around and the burrows are empty every time that i break one open, even if it’s a brand new one, usually i’ll take an airsoft gun and shoot them off of the wall, but even when i kill all that i can see, the next day, another wave appears, any ideas to completely eradicate them?

  32. Lauren January 30, 2016 at 3:43 pm - Reply

    With the recent blizzard my my area, I’m finding these crickets in my mud room. I’ve seen them in the summer as well, however this one was in slow motion. Probably from the cold temps outside.
    Quakertown, PA

  33. Kenny February 7, 2016 at 8:52 am - Reply

    My mom’s has these under her house and her crawl space in Zanesville Ohio I have a picture but don’t know how to put it on here

  34. carol May 19, 2016 at 11:37 am - Reply

    how do I post the pictures of this cave/camel cricket/spider that was in my basement in Philadelphia. Note that my basement is very dry.

  35. Marie July 11, 2016 at 11:00 pm - Reply

    Found two in house in Long Island. One jumped out from behind toilet, other was in dark area under utility sink. Do I need an exterminator?

Leave A Comment