While annual nuisances such as stink bugs and ladybugs have started to nestle away, more recent invaders to the region — camel crickets — have made themselves right at home.
If you live in a house deep in the woods, near a body of water, or have a clammy basement or crawl space, there’s a chance these crickets have already infested your home. Camel crickets, also known as cave or spider crickets (Diestrammena asynamora), love dark, damp places to live and reproduce.
It’s not clear when camel crickets made their way into the Hudson Valley, but their numbers have noticeably increased in the region in recent years, said Max Helmberger, extension-outreach assistant in Cornell University’s entomology program.
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One thing’s for sure: If you have somewhere they can hide, they’re likely to multiply in large numbers, Helmberger said.
“In nature, the name cave cricket isn’t an exaggeration — they actually do live in caves,” he said.
These creepy-crawlies are harmless to humans, though they’re known to terrorize homeowners with their spider-like appearance, quick scurries across the floor or wall and sudden jumping habits.
What are camel crickets?
Native to East Asia, camel crickets were introduced to the U.S. more than 100 years ago, Helmberger said. The most extensive research on the species has been done in the South, but they’ve made their way up the East Coast in recent years.
They’re dark brown in color, with long legs and antennae that can make adults more than 4 inches long, Helmberger said. These crickets don’t have wings, so they can’t chirp, but their large hind legs allow them to jump several feet.
“They are indeed harmless,” he said. “They don’t bite, they don’t sting, consume food or damage anything.”
But if you try to kill one with a shoe or a fly swatter, there’s a good chance it will jump up away — sometimes at your face.
“They have really bad eye sight, so anything they perceive as a possible threat, they blindly jump at it,” Helmburger explained. “Sometimes when disturbed, they can jump up at you.”
How do I get rid of them?
While these bugs enjoy dwelling in basements, garages and crawlspaces, they may sometimes venture into your living space.
They get inside through cracks in the wall and under doorways, said Jim Horton, owner of QualityPro Pest Control & Wildlife Services in Tarrytown.
Unfortunately, Horton said, there’s no easy stopper when it comes to camel crickets inside the house.
Horton’s business, for example, will come to your home and find the source area of the crickets, he said. He’ll use a one-time application of pesticide, then replace any damp fiberglass insulation and spray a foam that creates a moisture barrier over cracks and crevices.
And while the crickets are harmless to humans, they may get around to some of your household items. They feed on anything organic, dead or alive, including dead animals, mold, mildew, old food and paper products, Horton said.
The best way to kill the crickets is by planting glue traps in problem areas around your home, Horton said. If you see one jumping around the house, a vacuum will do the trick.
Using a fly swatter or dropping a book on it isn’t always the best option: “That’s going to be a mess if it’s a big one,” Horton said.
Moisture reduction is the key to reducing your household cricket population, he said. That may mean running a dehumidifier in a few rooms to cut out that dampness. Horton emphasized that a dry home is the last place these crickets want to be.