Asian Camel Crickets Now Common in U.S. Homes

Greenhouse camel cricket (Diestrammena asynamora). Photo credit: Lauren Nichols, YourWildlife.org. Click to enlarge.

With their long, spiky legs and their propensity for eating anything, including each other, camel crickets are the stuff of nightmares. Research from North Carolina State University finds that non-native camel cricket species have spread into homes across the eastern United States.

“The good news is that camel crickets don’t bite or pose any kind of threat to humans,” says Dr. Mary Jane Epps, a postdoctoral researcher at NC State and lead author of a paper about the research.

The research stems from a chance encounter, when a cricket taxonomist found an invasive cricket in the home of one of the NC State researchers. Wondering how common the species might be in the U.S., the researchers tapped in to their citizen science network, which is part of Dr. Rob Dunn’s Your Wild Life lab. Dunn is an associate professor of biological sciences at NC State and co-author of the paper.

Greenhouse camel cricket (Diestrammena asynamora). Photo credit: Lauren Nichols, YourWildlife.org. Click to enlarge.
Greenhouse camel cricket (Diestrammena asynamora). Photo credit: Lauren Nichols, YourWildlife.org. Click to enlarge.

The researchers asked the public whether they had camel crickets (also known as cave crickets) in their homes and, if so, to send in photos or mail in physical specimens. The responses they got were surprising.

The most common species reported, by more than 90 percent of respondents, was the greenhouse camel cricket (Diestrammena asynamora). Native to Asia, this species was first sighted in the U.S. in the 19th century – but it was thought to be rare outside of commercial greenhouses. Instead, the researchers found that it is now far more common than native camel crickets in and near homes east of the Mississippi.

“We don’t know what kind of impact this species has on local ecosystems though it’s possible that the greenhouse camel cricket could be driving out native camel cricket species in homes,” Epps says.

The researchers also sampled the yards of 10 homes in Raleigh, North Carolina. They found large numbers of greenhouse camel crickets, with higher numbers being found in the areas of the yards closest to homes.

The photos submitted by the public turned up a second surprise as well.

“There appears to be a second Asian species, Diestrammena japanica, that hasn’t been formally reported in the U.S. before, but seems to be showing up in homes in the Northeast,” Epps says. “However, that species has only been identified based on photos. We’d love to get a physical specimen to determine whether it is D. japanica.”

The researchers stress that homeowners shouldn’t panic if they find camel crickets in their homes.

“Because they are scavengers, camel crickets may actually provide an important service in our basements or garages, eating the dead stuff that accumulates there,” says Dr. Holly Menninger, director of public science in the Your Wild Life lab at NC State and co-author of the paper.

“We know remarkably little about these camel crickets, such as their biology or how they interact with other species,” Menninger says. “We’re interested in continuing to study them, and there’s a lot to learn.”

The paper, “Too big to be noticed: Cryptic invasion of Asian camel crickets in North American houses,” is published online in the open-access journal PeerJ. The paper was co-authored by Nathan LaSala, who did the work while a student at Enloe High School. The research was supported by National Science Foundation grant number 0953390.

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Note to Editors: The study abstract follows.

“Too big to be noticed: Cryptic invasion of Asian camel crickets in North American houses”

Authors: Mary Jane Epps, Holly L. Menninger, and Robert R. Dunn, North Carolina State University; Nathan LaSala, Enloe High School

Published: Sept. 2, PeerJ

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7717/peerj.523

Abstract: Despite the rapid expansion of the built environment, we know little about the biology of species living in human-constructed habitats. Camel crickets (Rhaphidophoridae) are commonly observed in North American houses and include a range of native taxa as well as the Asian Diestrammena asynamora (Adelung), a species occasionally reported from houses though considered to be established only in greenhouses. We launched a continental-scale citizen science campaign to better understand the relative distributions and frequency of native and nonnative camel crickets in human homes across North America. Participants contributed survey data about the presence or absence of camel crickets in homes, as well as photographs and specimens of camel crickets allowing us to identify the major genera and/or species in and around houses. Together, these data offer insight into the geographical distribution of camel crickets as a presence in homes, as well as the relative frequency and distribution of native and nonnative camel crickets encountered in houses. In so doing, we show that the exotic Diestrammena asynamora not only has become a common presence in eastern houses, but is found in these environments far more frequently than native camel crickets. Supplemental pitfall trapping along transects in 10 urban yards in Raleigh, NC, revealed that D. asynamora can be extremely abundant locally around some homes, with as many as 52 individuals collected from pitfalls in a single yard over two days of sampling. The number of D. asynamora individuals present in a trap was negatively correlated with the trap’s distance from a house, suggesting that these insects may be preferentially associated with houses but also are present outside. In addition, we report the establishment in the northeastern United States of a second exotic species, putatively Diestrammena japonica Blatchley, which was previously undocumented in the literature. Our results offer new insight into the relative frequency and distribution of camel crickets living in human homes, and emphasize the importance of the built environment as habitat for two little-known invading species of Orthoptera.

35 responses on “Asian Camel Crickets Now Common in U.S. Homes

  1. Amber Taylor says:

    They started appearing in my home in VA a couple of years ago.

  2. Bob Jackson says:

    I live in zip 63051 and have had these in my house for several years now. This year in particular seems to be the worst year yet, as I kill one or two of them every day.

  3. Cassie says:

    I’ve had them show up just about every winter for the last five years. Today, I saw one in my foyer closet. It’s 80 degrees and humid.

  4. Tim Brown says:

    Back in 1970, there was a pipe that went under a road beside our home. we as Children use to lean over and walk through this pipe, in Greenville SC near the Saluda River. The Pipe is about 200 yards long and has a creek running through it. People back then couldn’t believe what I was bringing home in jars, this pipe has thousands of these Crickets from end to end. It is and was infested with these back in the late 60s

  5. Catherine Park says:

    We had an invasion of what my husband called “spider crickets” in Raleigh in late fall 2013. They were a deeper brown color than the picture, but very similar. Our cat sat by the kitchen door for weeks to catch the ones that came inside.

  6. Pat Lewis says:

    I have had these in my basement for several years now, I too called them “spider crickets” when we first noticed them they seemed to be pretty aggressive..waiting for you then leaping on you..not so much now..creepy little boogers..lol

  7. Hettiesue Everhart says:

    I have those crickets under my house and they get in the house. I have glue strips all over the house, and they do fill up fast. I can’t figure out where they get in. They drive me crazy, my great grandkids call them spiders. If you need a sample I sure can get you one or two or three.

  8. Sandra says:

    We live in Queens NY and have had an invasion of these “spider crickets” for the past 3 years. They are the ugliest things ever and can usually find 6 to 8 of them on our finished basement. They are a darker brown then the ones pictured and I don’t get close enough to know if they have stripes.

  9. Lindsey says:

    I live in zip code 45638 and have seen these for years mostly in my husbands parents basement also see tons of these under our house and garage. occasionally we will find them in our house totally give me the creeps bc they jump so high

  10. Roxane says:

    September 6, 2014 Found one of the crickets in my bedroom a few weeks ago! Didn’t know what it was, so glad to know they are harmless, wicked looking! Sure hope they don’t invade my house like the stink bugs did last winter! By the way live in northern ky 41015!

  11. SANDY COATES says:

    I have hundreds of them in my crawl space, in North Carolina zip 28108

  12. M, Bocina says:

    I live on Long Island, NY. I have seen these critters in my basement for a few years. Recently noted more of them than usual. I have a crawl space under an addition to my kitchen and found about a hundred on the outer wall of the house. Sprayed them with Raid which dropped them to the floor. Will follow up.

  13. CHRIS IANNETTA says:

    I FOUND ONE 9/14/14—ZIP CODE 11793—WHER CAN I SEND A PHOTO

  14. James Murray says:

    We live in delaware 19904, and have caught at least one or two Asian crickets for the last three years. Killed the first one and took it to the dept of agr. for an id, and was told it was an cricket.

  15. Mary Beth says:

    I just saw one of these in my garage in Durham, NC…zip code 27707. This insect SO large that for split second I thought it might be a hallucination. I am obviously not thrilled about having these, but it IS good to know that I’m not the only one who has these and that I wasn’t seeing things.

  16. Derald says:

    I have seen these in tge basement in Maryland 21215, for the past 3-4 years. However, this year it has gotten worst. We had to spray a perimeter insect spray insaide and outside today. Not I am finding dead ones ckme out of nowhere. In three years , I haven’t been able to determine how they are getting in the basement, which is the onlynplace we are finding them. I will turn up my dehumidifier to reduce the moisture more and see if it make a difference.

  17. Jason Davis says:

    I found one the other day (9/20/14) in my house in Rehoboth Beach, DE. Have picture if needed.

  18. Bryan Gurley says:

    How do I kill them and keep them from coming back

  19. E Hyde says:

    Lat: 39.68°N Lon: 75.6°W Elev: 74ft.
    near Wilmington DE)

    I have captured and frozen some “creatures” which I think are the crickets you have an interest in seeing. Their forbearers invaded our yard about two or three years ago, their offspring moved inside the house these last two years. They are slow moving, seem to eat each other, and I do believe they eat our standard black crickets as well.

    In fact, I think the population of black crickets is being controlled by these odd crickets . This year I have the fewest black crickets I have had in at least ten years. They normally invade our house, annoy us with their presence, chirp incessantly from August into November. I try to catch them and put them outside! (No poisons) In one “midnight kitchen raid” to capture anybody I could , I observed several “odd ones” positioned five or six inches out surrounding one BIG black cricket. They scattered when I got close. It clearly looked like an attack on the black one. I have seen similar occurrences more than once.

    The specimens I have were caught alive and frozen, also, I have a dried-up one which got in a plastic tub and somehow could not get out, but looks quite whole (no missing parts).

    I need an address… if you are interested.

  20. Jack O'Malley says:

    Lake Success, New York 11021. For the past several Autumns These spider-crickets appear on a concrete walled stairwell that leads to a housekeeper’s apartment located under the enclosed rear deck. An existing floor drain, and overhead entry light attract flies, moths and mosquitos….which may in turn attract these spider-crickets.

    At first, I left them alone, along with the returning preying mantis that always perches on an adjutting basement window air conditioner overlooking the lawn, every year just around the time when the regular crickets start chirping. The way this green SOB arches/twists his head to watch me pass by on my own walkway is both amusing and amazing!!!

    Back to the spider-crickets. Although careful entering her apartment, it appears these spider-crickets jump up to attach to your clothing to enter the basement area, and my housekeeper found three in her unit, all of which I exterminated. These spider-crickets seem to confront you; they become terratorial, and actually jump towards you in a hallway, or appear to block your encroachment on a path towards them. Now I regularly spray the stairwell and walls with 565 Plus XLO which kills everything. Au revoir monsieurs spider crickets……Makes me want to re-read “The Cricket of Times Square”…… a favorite childhood tale.

  21. Christine cary says:

    Last night at 11:00pm October 12, 2014. I woke up feeling something on my neck. I jumped out of bed turned the light on and what I saw was this camel cricket. At first I thought it was a huge spider. Needless to say I couldn’t sleep for the rest of the night. I’m still freaked out.

  22. Paul Parham says:

    October 21, 10:00 p.m. says we have had some of these also, and called in an exterminator to spray inside, outside and crawl space areas. We have had them several years now and our zip code is 80920. Talk about freaking out several years ago, one turned up on my arm while sleeping in bed!!

  23. Robin Miller says:

    I moved into a rental home, 3 months ago., in Indiapolis, IN.Which ,appeared to be so nice n cozy, for about 2 weeks, From outta nowhere, these horrible spricketts! Im having the place exterminated proffesdionally tommorrow., should the crawlspace be treated, as well ?Ive lined the garage in double sided tape. Catching 10+ a day!! Alsi using water bowls as traps, havent had a nites rest , yet. So nervous over these freaky things, find myself having to drop a phonebook over them to catch n kill it#

  24. Rachel says:

    I live in Brick, New Jersey and this is the second Autumn in a row that I’ve seen them in my bedroom except this year is MUCH WORSE. I woke up this morning with one crawling in my hair! They latch onto my bed all the time and crawl on the carpet.. In fact I read that when they don’t have fungi to feed on they will eat fabric and carpet. It is horrifying and I can’t sleep peacefully at night… Tonight I am sleeping on the couch!

  25. liz says:

    I am so tired of these ugly creatures in my 11778 zip code. They started coming in last year and I catch them and flush them. Gross. Yesterday the babies started coming. Omg. How many offspring dk these things have?

  26. Arthur Comer says:

    We first seen these crickets appear on our unfinished basement walls upon returning from a 3 week vacation back in 2005. At first we would just kill them with fly swatters. We continued this method until last year. It was a never ending chore and we felt like we were just spinning our wheels in our efforts to control them. Last year I started putting down lengths of duct tape with the sticky side up at the base of the basement walls where it met the floor. Wow did this work! While we still have the crickets appearing on the duct tape (and dying there) we do not have them hopping all over the basement floor like they used to. Until I find an effective way of preventing them from entering the basement, this safe method of control seems to be working as I do not want to use any harmful chemicals.
    Our house is located on Long Island, NY.

    1. Nancy C. says:

      Wow- what a great idea! I like that your method of
      capture is effectve for controlling crickets- yet is also safe for the environment. Also- it is very inexpensive and the materials are easy to obtain (anyone can buy a roll of duct tape). Hopefully- others will steer away from deadly and damaging pesticides- and use your
      eco-friendly solution.

  27. Nancy says:

    Long Island, N.Y. 11793. Here 25 years. First noticed about 5 years ago at start of Fall. Only a few, and then nothing for the rest of the year, so was not concerned. This year have noticed an increase. Want to avoid chemicals for the time being. Will try the traps first. Thinking about a dehumidifier, although my husband says a good one can be very expensive.

  28. rona says:

    First noticed them about 3 years ago, but it has really increased over the last 2 years and this year especially. I am using sticky traps that I got at Home Depot. They work well in terms of trapping them if they wander into the traps but if they don’t they are gross and frightening- you never know when they will jump out at you. They are all over my basement now and they have even tried coming upstairs! I am on Long Island, zip 11758.

  29. Tony says:

    I first noticed one of the critters a couple of months ago, probably in May. We live in Harwich on Cape Cod. Today my wife discovered around thirty dead crickets on the bottom of a ceramic container much like a spittoon. We haven’t seen any live ones at this point but will be checking. We have a dehumidifier going most of the time for most of six months of the year. That may be what killed them, hopefully. I do plan on spraying the foundation with Ortho’s Home Defense.

  30. peter says:

    I live in long island N.Y 11040 .I have them in my yarn,living under barbecue cover .

  31. Angela D. says:

    I noticed large, spotted Spider Crickets in my bathroom this winter! I didn’t have my eyeglasses on one morning about 2 or 3am, went to the bathroom and saw something. I grabbed a shoe and killed a bug. I picked it up in a tissue and flushed it down the toilet. The next day, while using the bathroom, unfortunately, I had my eyeglasses on, and wished I hadn’t! A big, hideous, tan, with black camouflage, Spider thing leaped at me after I had washed my hands, I swung a shoe at it and it leap again towards me as my screams grew louder, and heart racing I finally killed that monster!!! It was on the lower left side entry way of the bathroom door and it wouldn’t let me out. Haven’t seen any since then until yesterday. I killed one without my glasses the other morning, it was lying still, I had hoped it was not a new invasion of them again! Then later on in the bathroom, again with glasses on it confirmed my worse fears. I killed another one. They are back!!!! In Springfield, Illinois.

  32. Dar says:

    What do you put down to get rid of them? Finding them in my cellar at Cape Cod.

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