Getting rid of camel crickets

Some gratuitous advice for anyone who’d like to get rid of the little bastards.

Background

colin purrington photography: animals &emdash; Camel cricketCamel crickets (also known as sprickets because they look like spiders) feed on fungi that grow on damp basement walls. When they can’t find fungus they are reported to eat carpet, cardboard, wood, and even each other. There’s even an Australian species that eats one of its own legs when sufficiently hungry (watch the video, if you dare). There are hundreds of different species of camel crickets, but they cannot be distinguished by number of humps — they all have just one.  Note that camel crickets are different from cave crickets.  Unless you live in a cave, you have camel crickets.

colin purrington photography: Bartram's Garden, Philadelphia &emdash; Camel crickets on ceiling of Bartram HouseCamel crickets often hide during the day, but you can tell you have a large population when their frass colors walls dark brown.  Frass is poop, by the way — if you watched Sideways, that’s why the name “Frass Canyon Vineyards” is so darn funny. When the crickets migrate out of the basement in search of food and moist places to lay their eggs, they tend to creep the bejesus out of unsuspecting family members … which is why I was motivated to make this page.

Some ways to get rid of them

Camel crickets1. Make sticky traps out of duct tape, then bait with a piece of dry cat food or equivalent. Any food works. Indeed, once the first cricket gets stuck they’ll all be on that trap trying to eat the first guy even before he’s dead. If you’re too lazy to make your own sticky trap, just search for “mouse sticky traps” on your favorite online retailer, or buy them at a big-box home improvement store.

If you like doing stupid science projects to impress your friends, put different types of bait on the traps. If you have kids, pit them against each other with the challenge of identifying the most effective bait (Fruit Loops versus Lucky Charms??). You can reward the kid that comes up with the most crickets at the end of the week. Or you can punish the loser — depends on your parenting style!

water, drown, soap, soapy, surfactant, insect, camel cricket, basement2. Place containers of soapy water in your basement. Camel crickets love water and will fall into these containers and drown. The soap is just a way to counteract the waxy coating on their exoskeletons so they sink faster.

3. Buy an electronic rat trap (e.g. on Amazon). Get the kind that is activated by moisture not heat (infrared). FYI, electronic traps have enough amperage to cause a cricket to explode, complete with a satisfying crackle. On this note, make sure you don’t set the trap near something flammable like open cans of paint thinner. Also, make sure your basement doesn’t have a gas leak. That would be bad.

4. Hunt them with an airsoft gun. Remember to wear safety goggles to protect from ricochets. And remember, don’t let your kid take the airsoft gun to a playground, or to school, or to the airport (etc). You can use biodegradable ammunition if you don’t want to pick up the pellets, of course, although the surviving crickets will probably eat the pellets (doh!). Note that if you get a weapon for each member of your family, this can be a bonding experience and can even qualify for Family Home Evening if you live in Utah. (Family Home Evening is Monday night, just in case you’re not Mormon and don’t know better. Don’t embarrass yourself by doing it on Tuesday. Been there.) Don’t pass up the opportunity to play music that fits the task, such as the soundtrack from The Descent, Aliens, or Starship Troopers.

5. If your family is looking for fun bonding activity but is against weapons, get each member a bug-zapping racket (e.g., like this one). I own one of these and can confirm that they kill houseflies efficiently and are moderately enjoyable to use. The flies spark, sizzle, and pop in a satisfying way, and chasing the flies around the house with a racket does, in fact, burn more calories that hunting them with rubber bands (which I’m very, very good at). The racket I have takes 2 AA batteries, which last about a month or so during the peak fly season. Pro tip: don’t touch the wires … the shock is really like an electrical shock, and hurts. I’ve tested this, just like I’ve foolishly tested electric fences in my youth (XY syndrome). If you have a family member with a heart condition or Pacemaker who might react poorly to electrical shocks, keep the racket out of their reach. Also, if the excitement of just watching might push these folks into arrhythmia, send them out on a long errand while you do your thing.

6. Less exciting, but also fun for kids is a long-armed bug vacuum. Here are a bunch on Amazon. I don’t get kickbacks so don’t feel obliged to even click on that link. Just know that there are such things, and they look mildly fun.

7. Buy a Siamese cat. We have one of these, named Fleabane, and she is a ruthless camel cricket predator. Hunts them down and eats them, leaving only legs. Kind of creeps us out, truth be told. [UPDATE: she’s over this, and is now worthless.] [UPDATE II: our pug now eats them!]

8. Release mice in your basement. Mice just love to eat camel crickets. And then, to get rid of the mice, go to the pet store and buy one of those giant centipedes from the tropics.  Watch this video if you doubt that a centipede can kill and eat a mouse. Don’t watch the video if you’ve just eaten. Really. And don’t watch the video if you ever plan to travel to the Amazon. Really.

9. Keep chameleons in your basement. When I was growing up in squalor in East Lansing, my parents bought two chameleons to keep the roach population under control. They had the run of the house (the chameleons, that is), and were adorable to boot. When I was young, I thought everyone had chameleons for this same reason (ah, foolish youth). Anyway, I’m sure chameleons will eat camel crickets.  Just make sure to give them a heat lamp and a water source. And make sure that when chameleons crawl under a rug, that you don’t inadvertently step on them and flatten them, only to discover their dry husks years later. That’s another story altogether, as is why chameleons would crawl under rugs in the first place. Sniff.

10. Attack them with a weed trimmer. My family used a weed trimmer to control snails in our vegetable garden when we lived in Salt Lake City, and it was great fun. “Great fun” for a teenager in Salt Lake City is probably a questionable phrase, but I do have fond memories of this. They might be false fond memories, though, just like much of my time there. I wore safety goggles so the juices and shell shards wouldn’t get in my eyes. The big problem with doing this in your basement is that the cricket juice and attached limbs will just get sprayed all over the walls, and then you’ll have that to deal with. Of course, the camel crickets left alive will slowly eat the surfaces clean (I’m an optimist).

11. Buy a Roomba vacuum bot. I don’t own one of these and have never even seen one, but I’m tempted to buy one just for this pupose. Ideally, attach food to it in some way so the little devils actually move toward it. Or put food in the center of your basement in a way that is protected from the Roomba, then let the robot loose. If you are Roomba rep, maybe you could gift one to me with the expectation that I might be good advertising. Come on, you know it would. I’d put a GoPro on it …

Camel cricket vacuum12. If you have a spare vacuum, buy a Belkin WeMo motion switch at Targét and set it up next to a secured pile of food. Then plug your vacuum cleaner into the power switch component of the motion switch (which will get activated by the motion) and position the vacuum attachment tube really close to the pile of food. If your basement is dark, also set up a little battery-operated, motion-sensing light so that cricket movement causes the little area to be illuminated enough for the motion sensor to work. Then use the Belkin smartphone app to make 2 rules. Rule 1: when motion sensed, turn switch on, then off immediately (this sucks up the cricket and returns unit to sensing mode). Rule 2: when switch activated, send notification (this tells you that a cricket has been sucked). Rule 2 isn’t really necessary, but it sure is fun to get those notifications on your phone during a boring meeting. You can silently whisper, “Yessssss.  Yea, life sucks, you creepy little bastard. Die, die, die.” If you’re really Type A, you can link up the device with IFTTT so that number of sucks per day is recorded in a spreadsheet. All of the above details are illustrated in my post, “Using motion-activated vacuum cleaner to control camel crickets.” There’s even a movie, for all you doubters. Yes, indeed, I am Type A. How did you guess??

Diatomaceous earth13. Use diatomaceous earth. You can buy bags of this at most hardware stores, or online. Just spread it around areas where crickets congregate. The sharp, microscopic diatoms (they are long-dead algae with hard, silicized cell walls) work their way into crickets’ limb joints and in between segment plates … and also scrape off the protective layer of wax on the crickets’ exoskeletons. They probably die of dehydration, though entomologists argue about the exact cause of death. Whatever the mode of death, they deserve it. Please note, however, that diatomaceous earth is composed of fossilized organisms that are millions of years old; if objects older than 6000 years tend to undermine your world view, don’t buy it.

14. Use insecticides. Camel crickets are insects, so any broad-spectrum insecticide will work (e.g., Raid). I’ve heard of people using Niban (imidacloprid) granules, too … but don’t use that if you have or like honeybees. Note, also, that if you make your basement too toxic, you can’t lock your kids down there. Also this: if you dose your insects up and you have pets, pets might be snacking on dosed insects. If you are sick of your annoying pet, that’s something to keep in mind.

15. Waterproof your basement. Once you cut off the moisture supply, you cut off of the fungal growth and the crickets will starve … though it might never get your population to the zero you want. I’ve actually spent a few years remortering my basement, and it turns out it’s a lot of work, which is why it’s way down on this list. I’ve gone through about 700 lbs of cement already, plugging gaping holes in the foundation and also applying at least 1/2″ of cement to all surfaces. It really sucks, and it’s actually not doing a whole lot to control my cricket population. They just watch me from the dark corners and laugh. And my back hurts.

16. Buy a dehumidifier. If you can drop the moisture level to where fungi cannot grow, the crickets will starve. Again, this won’t get rid of all them, but the population numbers will go down if you keep the unit on all the time. I have one that vents water to outside via a hose, so I don’t need to monitor it at all. I say that not to brag. I’m just saying.

17.  Move to a different house. This is a really attractive option for me. Our town’s nickname is Swampmore. I should’ve known better.

Good luck.

About Colin Purrington

PhD in evolutionary biology • twitterinstagram
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61 Responses to Getting rid of camel crickets

  1. NM says:

    enjoyed reading it! Gave me a laugh. Yep, got some da*n camel crickets in my basement and this is how I found your blog.

  2. Kevin says:

    Hi Colin,
    Thanks so much for the free advice. Never really knew what these things were all about but for whatever the reason they are just plain NASTY and repulsive insects. Thanks for giving me some good pointers on how to get rid of them. Much appreciated! Kevin

  3. Robert Fultz says:

    Using the sticky traps. Have caught 8. I don’t think I am invaded by them.

  4. Camel Cricket Destroyer says:

    I’m hunting those little fuc*ers down with an airsoft gun. Fun as hell.

  5. Jill says:

    Hilarious. Full of good advice and family fun. Especially enjoyed the video.

  6. Elle Kinkade says:

    I have a siamese cat, she hunts them down and eats only the legs. I think my cat needs to be taken back for a refund.

  7. Emilee says:

    Good read… Nice humor :)

  8. Braydon Antal says:

    All good but don’t give chameleon care advice! Lol that was very wrong

  9. Cate says:

    Found by searching “wtf is up with these cricket spiders.” dk why these creeps give me the heebie jeebies, but plain old chirping crickets seem kind of endearing. Many thanks.

    • Steve says:

      That’s hilarious. We’ve had these damn things off & on for years. I just decided to search to see if others called them the same as us. I was surprised to find so much info on them. This site was the funniest :)

  10. Kendall Crosby-Shipman says:

    Well, hate these things! Woke up to one on my ear this morning. Was not pleased!! I love this article thanks! Kendall

  11. Robert in tennessee says:

    I just got rid of 50 to 60 of these critters in my basement by duct taping a longer piece of 1/2″ pvc pipe to the nozzle of a bagless vacuum cleaner and hunting them down 1 by 1. A few neededvto be chased but most could be captured almost immediately.

  12. Kathleen Binkley says:

    I HATE these creepy things!! So glad to know we’re not the only people dealing with these disgusting things. Glad to know there is help to get rid of them. We’ve been using the store bought glue traps…and you’really right! It may take a week for the first ugly cricket to get stuck, then it seems like a day or two later it looks like a cricket casserole! SO GROSS! But I ‘d rather see them dead!!! Thanks,
    Kit Binkley in a 125 year older house in Michigan.

  13. Debbie Astle says:

    Enjoyed your article very much, you are hysterical. Thank goodness my chickens keep the bugs down around our property. Now if I can just get the dogs to chase off all the voles I’ll be happy. Central California

  14. Megan Killian says:

    I googled “spider crickets” and came upon your blog. Funny enough, my husband and I just moved to Rutledge (next to Swarthmore/Morton). Holy shit, these spider crickets scare the crap out of me. We have a cat (also Siamese) and the big ones are camping out in her litter box.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing this info, and glad to hear we aren’t the only ones near Swampmore that have these gross bugs. (P.S. We also grew up in Michigan, but closer to Detroit than EL)

  15. Kathy says:

    OMG too funny! Went downstairs to the basement to put clothes in dryer and there were two of them just eyeing me up and down. Threw my shoe at them and they scattered lightening fast under the dryer. Tomorrow I will put out some duct tape. (I will wait for day light. Chicken Little here!) Thanks for the fun read.

  16. Geddy says:

    Best article I’ve read in a long time. Absolutely histerical, had me laughing so hard. THANKS! -Knoxville TN

  17. Shea says:

    A method that yu can also do is soaking a paper towel in nail polish remover and putting it in an old container with a lid (I used a mayonnaise container). Catch one of the little devils in there and seal them up. all the ones i catch die in seconds and stay dead. you can then pin them to a board and start your own bug collection! Or throw em away. Either was, it’s pretty satisfying seeing them pile up in a jar and once you get one you can keep hunting without worrying about caught ones escaping the jar!

  18. Robin Slaven says:

    we are loaded with the creepy things!
    I live on Cape Codder, and this is the first year I’ve noticed them. your article was so funny, but also informative. they are the nastiest insects I’ve ever seen!

  19. For two nights I’ve been awakened by a creepy crawler on my arm!! I saw it tonight crawling under my trundle type bed. Great, where’s the rest of the family? I thought they were in the garage. They must die because I can’t sleep. However, in reading this, it made me giggle, so I’m not as freaked out. Thanks!!

  20. Jon says:

    The duct tape trick works!!! Caught one and then 3 weeks later there was a whole family stuck on it.

  21. Barbara in SC says:

    Absolutely hysterical. Love your sense of humor and creativity. What a hoot

  22. Kaleigh says:

    The first time I’ve ever seen these “sprickets” was last year..and I was MORTIFIED. I had no idea what they were, I just knew they were huge and they jumped. So I thought hmmm…I’ve never seen a spider with hind legs like that which led me to my search. Seems I only see them this time of year. Haven’t seen one since this time last year. I live in SC by the way, and you article is HILARIOUS. Thanks for the tips.

  23. LisaB says:

    I have these too. My rental house is built into the side of a hill that is wooded. The first floor of my house is essentially the basement. I’d never seen these creepy insects until I moved here. The first one scared me to death and I sprayed it with Raid because I thought it was a spider initially. When I looked online and realized it was a cricket, I was sad I killed it. They are harmless. I catch a number of these weekly in a Mason jar one at a time and release them. I don’t feel the need to kill them. I can appreciate the humor in your article, though.

    • The Amazingly Helpful Spiderman! says:

      So you were sad to kill a camel cricket but not a spider? Spiders are one of mother nature’s best pest controllers. They typically eat several times their body weight in insects every day and trap many more with their webs. And most of them (99.99%) are completely harmless to people.
      You will likely suffer with an infestation of nastier bugs in the near future if you continue to kill off your tiny spider population. Just my humble opinion.

  24. Michelle says:

    OMG, there are more out there like me, scared to death of these mutant crickets as I call them. I am going to Lowes today to buy sticky paper.

  25. Anna says:

    We’ve had these things for years in our basement but once in a while they crept up to the kitchen. I would scream & hubby would just set them free in the backyard. Now we have a fish tank with some juvenile Oscar fish that can’t seem to eat enough. It may be cruel but in nature the fish wouldn’t eat a pellet diet so these crickets have been a great source of protein & pest control. Now he husband looks for them – he said it’s cheaper than fish food ;)
    But this article is hilarious & I know my son would enjoy any form of cricket hunting!!

  26. SHERRY ASH says:

    This is the funniest thing to read. But seriously I need to go down into my basement to do my laundry and these nasties wait for me at the bottom of the steps. I can see them when I open the door and they look up at me like they are thinking, “let’s do dis!” They do jump at you and chase you too. I am so creeped out by them. I threw one of those glue traps down the steps and watched for a while and saw two of them check in. I used Roach Motels. I found them at the Dollar General. 2 for $2.00. Worked great. Put one on the front porch and got 2 of those huge black crickets. Thanks!

  27. Stacy Hathaway says:

    Thanks so much for the article. I had never seen one of these until this week. I was doing some laundry in the basement when I saw it and I don’t know for sure who was more scared me or the cricket. It does give one pause when you see one jump 3 feet! I have called my son to come over and kill it. We will then put down some diatomaceous earth to make sure any others are taken out in short order.

  28. julie raabe says:

    i just saw one in my living room and squished it immediately! My old house was full of them..they scare me half to death!!!! I have two lazy ass cats but my dog did eat the remains of the one i killed…p.s. Im glad my dog doesn’t like giving kisses…ill be setting duct tape traps tomorrow.

  29. Sheri says:

    My hedgehogs love them ! One of my guys is a houdini-escapes his enclosure all the time.. He and our cat hunt them together…

  30. Meg says:

    Love your blog.

  31. Kathi says:

    Thank you SO MUCH for our hysterical belly laughs, we truly APPRECIATED your humor; very entertaining. And BTW thanks also for the excellent menu of solution options; I intend to try several. We no longer have a kitty litter in our basement to which they were attracted. I checked out the Amazon bug collectors, but most devices were reviewed as rather ineffective. So I will vacuum them with the long attachment of my canister vacuum, use the sticky strips, the dehumidifer, the soapy water, AND correct the conditions which attracted them.

  32. Johnathon Heath says:

    Lol funny that was awsome! Totally a great investment of my time.

  33. Pam says:

    The warmer weather we’re experiencing right now has brought on a Biblical plague of these things in my home. I am using option #14 at the moment and as soon as I can, option #17!

  34. Cass says:

    I really enjoyed reading this. I was at my wits end because of all the crap I’m having to deal with in this 70+ year old house including but not limited to these freaks! These things creep me out! Thanks for the laugh! I needed it! Now do you have any advice for keeping snakes out of your house?

  35. Jacquie says:

    Too Funny! We have these ugly little suckers, and what what we found that works is that when is so.ething called Brakleen from CRC. Because f you try to smack a camek cricket with a show or other objects they just jump away fast.

  36. Wayne says:

    Thanks Colin, I hate the creepy little bastards too! Saw my 1st one under a sink in old house I lived in , for a very short time. Had to get out of there. Now almost 50 yrs. later they invade our home this time. Killed 8 or 10 in past two nights. I will definitely try some of your suggestions as I can’t stand the creepy things. This is war and take no prisoners!

    I would enjoy sticking food on remote detonation M-80s with thick sticky syrup, and just when it was covered with them, and their mates now snacking on the ones stuck in the syrup………. push the button!
    I imagine it would leave a mess to clean up, but it would be very satisfying and well worth it.

    Thanks for a great read, and for the articulated suggestions as well. Awesome sense of humor, God Bless!

  37. I love your style of humor! I buy and sell houses and see these things a lot and I usually run screaming :) Now I know what they are. I won’t run now, but I will probably still scream. Thanks for the info!

  38. John says:

    Thanks for the article I hate these little bastards too, buying duct tape today

  39. Linda rensimer says:

    Found these in my house about 10 years ago. Have had a contract with Terminix to come out every 3 months since then. I don’t mind bugs, but these are just a little too much to handle.

  40. Becky says:

    Love love love your humor also! We call them “moon crickets” ha ha

  41. Whitney says:

    This article was one of the best things I have ever read online. Hilarious and informative! Well done.

  42. Fishnattic says:

    We have been dealing with these critters a long time.
    Back when diazanon was available,that seemed to have the longest lasting affect.
    Can’t get rid of them but the sticky traps work the best.
    Never tried the piece of food to attract them. I have noticed though that when I put new sticky traps out,after you catch a couple,more show up rather quickly. I’ve even caught a couple baby black snakes looking for a meal.
    Enjoyed the other ways of wacking them.
    They are a nuisance,and not really harmful.

  43. Becks says:

    Thanks for your post very funny! Moved into a house pretty much in the forest, have these crickets in my basement, used mouse traps seems to work pretty well caught about 25 some were very small. They come from behind the washer machine (water! ) once we water proof basement hope they stay out!

  44. Danny says:

    You. I like you.
    You’re a redditor, aren’t you? I can tell.

  45. Christina says:

    Coming out of the shower at 10pm open door to spider cricket surprise! My scream wakes up the whole family as I lock myself in bathroom and wait for my husband to get out of bed to come kill it. My daughter doesn’t go back to sleep until 3am. Thanks mutant demon bug as I call them. Your article was funny tho’. I’m on Long Island NY. I’ve never seen them before this year. I live in a basement apartment.

  46. Ken says:

    Great stuff, thanks.

    Shop-vac = good hunting.

    If you chose a proactive approach, note that they spend a lot of time upside down, so check the basement ceiling, the underside of shelves, etc.

    I am inspired by the glue-trap suggestion.

  47. kariloupon says:

    Shared this awesome article on facebook Not only helpful, but hilarious! My son found one on his bed (basement bedroom) so I had to let him know they were harmless and controllable. Your words took care of that ~ with style!

  48. Joey says:

    I bought chameleons

  49. Dale Bennett says:

    I put out a box of D-Con for mice and they would eat some each night, so baited 2 mouse traps. Something kept eating the bait, as well as some Dcon, but never tripping the trap. So got sticky mouse traps and caught and then identify the bugs–camel crickets. Only caught 5, now no more are showing up. Thanks for the info. TPS: They love Dcon and thrive on it.

  50. Laura Koshy says:

    This was hilarious, and had some good tips to boot. Best line was the worldview being destroyed by something older than 6000 years. Ha! I found this trying to see if they go dormant in winter or if I’ve bested the buggers. They were living in my damp garage that had been fixed and probably got in through the broken drier vent that I’ve fixed. First year in this house so I’m curious. The basement is actually the driest I’ve been in so hoping my nights hunting them work slippers and flip flops worked (it’s like fly hunting, throw both from 2 sides at once, they jump into one while jumping away from the other, like flies do of you come at them from 2 sides. I’ve gotten very good.) I haven’t seen one in a while. Saw one carcass. I always wondered why I didn’t see more, now I know. Anyway, great post.

  51. Lynnda Kemp says:

    Great article. First time seeing them in my 53 years of life. I am preparing for my second summer with these annoying creatures in my basement and want to be ready for them. I was going to purchase a dehumidifier, but I will save some money and purchase the duct tape, sticky traps and a box of plastic gloves. What is the best location for the tape?

    I live in a condo and wonder what my neighbors are experiencing and doing and about it!

  52. Gwen R says:

    We had Camel crickets for years! We finally got rid of them with Borax sprinkled around and also washed the basement down with bleach water. I read this to my husband and I have laughed so hard I cried and my sides hurt! FYI I grew up in a Mormon Church so I was rolling getting that one and could hardly stop laughing! Made my night!

  53. Kevin R says:

    I’m in a lot of basements and crawl spaces for a living.
    I have been in houses where the walls floors and flooring above my head were literally crawling with them. I’ve kinda gotten used to it and they don’t really freak me out anymore. Just an every day kind of thing for me. I can tell you they dislike my turbo torch for sure. Soon as I strike it they get the hell away from me. I’ve sent more than one hopping across a dirt floor crawl space on fire before.

    They have really poor vision, so when you think they are jumping at you, they actually think they are jumping away from you.

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