The Camel Cricket: A Friend to Basements and a Pest to Homeowners This Annoying Insect Thrives in Moist Areas of a Home or Building

The Camel Cricket: A Friend to Basements and a Pest to Homeowners
The insect is called a camel cricket because of its hunchback or humpbacked appearance (iStock),

It's safe to say that the camel cricket is definitely not like the beloved and famous Disney character Jiminy Cricket from the animated classic film Pinocchio. Rather, this somewhat scary-looking invasive species from Asia is more of annoyance than a help, as the camel crickets are known to cause damage to houseplants, fabrics, furniture and clothing inside homes and buildings. First sighted in America around the 1800s, the camel cricket was assumed to be only found outside of greenhouses. However, according to a NC State study in 2014, these invasive insects are reportedly now commonplace in American homes.

What Do They Look Like

According to Henry Yane, a vice president at Knockout Pest Control in Uniondale, this insect--which measures approximately from a 1/2 to 1-and-1/2 inch, and is light tan to dark brown in color-- is called a camel cricket because of its hunchback or humpbacked appearance, further accentuated by its large hind legs and antennae. “What they do is they jump,” he says, “when they see you turn on the light they jump. And the reason for that is it's a defense mechanism that they developed over thousands of years to protect themselves”

Yane says that there are a lot of camel crickets in the Northeast –especially in New York-- as well as areas where there is high humidity. He adds that  they start breeding around the fall. “What happens is the female lays their eggs in the early spring and then they hatch, that's when it starts getting warmer and people start seeing them.”

Where Are They Found

Camel crickets, he says, are usually outdoor pests that are found around the exterior of a building, “typically in cool moist environments on the outside as well as on in the inside. They'll be under mulch, stone, woodpiles, and other debris. So make sure there's nothing against the building and stuff like that will reduce the chances of getting crickets inside.”

It's in basements where people will usually discover the camel crickets because they are high moisture areas. “They can breed in the hundreds,” says Yane. “Sometimes you'll know the level of infestation by looking at glue traps and fecal matter they leave behind, like roaches and other insects leave."

While they are known to cause damage to clothing and fabric, the camel cricket does not pose a serious health risk, according to PestWorld.org. “They're just a nuisance,” says Yane.

What Can Be Done

Speaking for his company, Yane suggests that the first thing they do when they treat a camel cricket problem is to visit the property and evaluate the situation. “We determine where the infestation is. We'll use pest products, glue trap. We'll recommend that the humidity be lowered by using a dehumidifier, or point out openings around pipes. We'll do recommendations of what can be done on the exterior to eliminate conducive conditions.” Depending on the size of the property, the  treatment can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 90 minutes.

As for what homeowners can do on themselves to prevent camel cricket infestation, Yane recommends such tactics as making sure the home or building is sealed and that the window walls are properly covered, He adds, "It's being proactive in making sure to keep your property is debris free, so in that way they do not breed,"

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