It's been a while since I last did a post about sprickets, so I thought it was time for another, especially because I get so many questions about "spider crickets," also commonly called camel crickets.
These insects are the creepy wee beasties of some people's nightmares. They're actually crickets but with a hunched back. They dwell in dark places and basements, and while it's bad enough that they look like spiders these lookalikes take full advantage of the similarity to hop like a demented spring when startled, scaring the bejeebus out of basement goers.
Don't worry, sprickets are quite harmless, much like the grasshoppers you see in yards and fields. They don't have fangs, they aren't venomous, and they can't bite, but they are omnivores, eating just about anything in sight. This leads us to the question of the blog post:
How many times have you gone down into the basement, into the back yard, or into your garage and found a hopping creature that looks like a spider and has the legs of a cricket? (usually this is followed by screaming or impolite words). This leaping creature is the camel cricket, a nocturnal insect in the order Orthoptera and the family Rhaphidophoridae (Rap-he-doe-fore-a day). They are light tan and brown, about 1-1 1/4" long, and they don't have wings (so no worries about flying). Camel crickets are related to cave crickets and occur across the US, all continents, and most islands. They like moist, dark, and damp environments which explains why you find them in garages and basements. The most common species here in the US is the Spotted camel cricket but researchers are finding that the Japanese camel cricket is also starting to invade our homes too.