It 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.