Cures for camel crickets

Have a camel cricket infestation?  I do, and I have some gratuitous advice for anyone who’d like to get rid of them.

Background

Camel 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, and even wood.  And each other (you really didn’t want to know that, did you?).  And 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.  If you’re in the United States and really want to know which species you have, check out this page .  The folks at Your Wild Life are also requesting that you report your infestation (so take some good photographs to send them).

colin purrington photography: animals &emdash; Camel cricketCamel crickets often hide during the day (or not: see them on a ceiling at photograph below), 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. If your population is really large, mice will likely move into the basement to feed on the beasties, and then you have a mouse problem, too.  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, and that’s probably why you searched for “what are those things in my basement and how can I kill them?“  And that’s why you found this page.

colin purrington photography: Bartram's Garden, Philadelphia &emdash; Camel crickets on ceiling of Bartram House

10 ways to get rid of them

Camel crickets1.  Make sticky traps out of duct tape.  Place a piece of dry cat food or equivalent on the sticky surface.  Crickets just love dry cat food. But really, once the first cricket gets stuck they’ll be on that trap trying to eat the first guy.

If you like doing stupid science projects to impress your friends, put different types of bait on the traps (as in photo to right). Let me know what works the best. If you have kids, pit them against each other with the challenge of designing the most effective trap.  You can reward the one 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.  They like water, and will fall into these containers and drown. The soap is just a way to counteract the waxy coating their exoskeletons have, so they sink faster.

3.  Hunt them with an Airsoft gun.    But you have to blast music that fits the task while you do it. Your options include soundtrack from The Descent, Aliens, or Starship Troopers.  Remember to wear safety goggles.  And use biodegradable ammunition if you don’t want to clean up after the carnage.  Unfortunately, the 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.)

4.  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. Or buy a pug.  They aren’t good for anything else, but mine eats camel crickets, just like Fleabane.  Pugs will eat anything, truth be told.  That’s probably TMI.

5. Release predators.  Mice just love to eat camel crickets, so just get a few at a local pet store and release them into your basement.  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).

6. Attack them with a weed trimmer.  In my crazy youth in Salt Lake City, I used a weed trimmer to control snails in our vegetable garden, 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.  I’d wear safety goggles so the juices wouldn’t get in my eyes.  Note to reader: these were big snails and actually did deserve to die horrible deaths. 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 them clean.

7. Vacuum them up.  I’m assuming you are busy and really don’t have time to vacuum the basement walls each day, so here’s what you do:

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.

8.  Spray with chemicals.  They are insects, so most insecticides will work.  But this is a lame remedy.  If you make your basement too toxic, you can’t lock your kids down there.

9.  Waterproof your basement.  Once you cut off the moisture supply, you cut off of the fungal growth and the crickets will starve. This is actually what I’ve been doing with my spare time, and it turns out it’s a lot of work, which is why it’s so far down on my 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. Or plot.  I’m not really sure.

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

Good luck.

74 Responses to Cures for camel crickets

  1. Patty L says:

    You are funny. So my husband has taken out the airsoft as the first option. The former homeschooled kid is wanting to get the crickets to feed to the leopard gecko. His concern is that the duct tape residue will not be good for the gecko. Gonna try it tonight anyway. Free food.

  2. Mimi says:

    I found just one of these ugly things. I didn’t know what it was. It looks like it has a stinger on it’s butt. I had a sticky trap that smells like peanut butter, and caught it with in a couple of hours. It has beady little black eyes that really creep me out. I now have several sticky traps set and a gate up so my dogs can’t get to the traps. Now that could be a bad thing. so far I have only seen and caught one. If there are any more they should know, I have one rule when it comes to bugs in my house. the only good bug is a dead bug!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • The stinger on the butt is an actually an ovipositor, and thus that’s a chick camel cricket. But ovipositors can evolve into stingers, of course, though that hasn’t happened with camel crickets so don’t be alarmed. Honeybees have evolved in that direction, fyi.

  3. Melissa Capps says:

    I hate hate HATE these nasty bugs. They give me the heebie jeebies and I swear it is like they have some sort of evil plot to take over your home after giving you a heart attack. If I see one, I usually see 2 or 3 more within a few hours. Last fall I used my sons nerf gun to shoot one down from the kitchen ceiling so I could spray it with bug spray without it possibly falling in my hair. I would DIE. haha

  4. gayle says:

    I think the move option is the best idea…

  5. Glenn g says:

    A year or two ago I noticed all of these legs extending around the ash pit panel under our fireplace. Pulled back the panel and these frightening looking insects were all over the ash pit. Did some on line research and discovered that they were indeed camel crickets with no useful purpose in life. Originally I used the insecticide method, but even though our children are grown the basement was pretty much off limits for a time. My next move was with a fly swatter, but they seemed to be able to sense the radial motion of my arm swing. I discovered that I could smash them with a large cardboard box because I could cut off their jump to safety. This method took a great deal of work for more than a few executions.

    While cleaning debris with a shop vac, I saw a dude and drifted the wand over to him. Gone! Not familiar with the air soft but can testify that the shop vac with a five foot extension works great! Will try one of tune passive measures on the website.

    Haven’t viewed any videos, but thoroughly enjoyed your site. Thanks…we’re in Nether Providence.

    • AmericanMum says:

      We just found one. Looks like it ‘s the introduced version. Not seen loads yet, but we seem to have the fancy centipedes that sting and kill pests. Hopefully they’ll get them!

    • Mary Guertin says:

      These are the ugliest bugs I have ever seen. The first one was in our basement and he was big sucker. Since it was a cricket and they’re suppose to be good luck, I left it alone. Several months later my cat Kitty Kitty was PLAYING with them. Now there were four more. I have the three times,unlucky, we have a damp basement, the litter box is down there and I feed my cats dry cat food oh and we have a fireplace’in the livingroom we thought Kitty was bringing them upstairs. But, now I read they can be in the fireplace,UGH!!! Disgusting. I’ll be smashing these things with a shovel.

    • Yes, shop vacs are wonderful. I’m sure you’ve discovered this, but you have to remember to empty the crickets out every few days so that they don’t rot. That’s a nasty smell… See you around town, neighbor!

  6. Liza says:

    So happy you made this page. Would have totally freaked out if we did not see this. Really appreciate your sense of humor. Thank you!

  7. Love this I used to have a basement bedroom and these things ruined my life we killed them all the time until we moved finally but I wish I would have known these tips

  8. Marty says:

    The first time I saw one of these camel crickets as you call them. I fell over a chair to get away from it. My cat thinks they are toys. She will pick it up with her mouth if she can catch it and bring it to me. Gee thanks. I do like the moving idea but not practicable. I will try the duct tape. Love you web sight.

  9. Karli P says:

    I find them in my bathroom at night. My dad replaced our tub about a year ago & the new tub has a little opening on the bottom next to the wall.

  10. Brilliant. I’m particularly fond of releasing preditors. You’d think two dogs would be enough but OH NO. Not these two. They are too dainty and ladylike for that (read: lazy) I suppose. Of course, releasing mice would give us a mouse problem. Again. And no, they didn’t bother with the mice, either.

    PS – haven’t seen any in months. I’m willing to bet that cleaning out the basement stairs to the outside is responsible. Buh bye, mold!

  11. Thank you for this. Stopping for duct tape on the way home….

  12. Amy says:

    What a treat to read this after being freaked the f out by one of these suckers this morning!!

  13. Kristin S says:

    Yes vacuum cleaners do much much more than just clean up dust: spider crickets, stink bugs….

  14. Marylander says:

    Colin, I just found your site because I googled ‘basement cricket’, as I just caught and released one a few minutes ago……Question for you: If you see only 1, does that mean there are 50 more hiding? I’ve only seen 2 total in the past 5 months…My basement walls are quite damp and my dehumidifier only reaches one small area. Question 2: I have seen over 10 different spider species in my basement, too…do you know anyone or site where I can post photos to be identified? I already found yourwildlife.org through your site and just emailed them my camel cricket report…

    • You probably have 500 in hiding, though perhaps only 50 large adults. Sorry, that’s probably not what you wanted to hear. For spider identification, it will vary by state. I know that Audubon makes good iPhone guides (I have them all), and Mid-Atlantic version might work for you. I don’t know of a good site that does everywhere (I’ve looked). 10 different spiders! That’s a good collection.

  15. amanda says:

    Not only are they terrifying to stumble upon (my childhood in GA was spent with these jerks all in my basement) but can we please make a note about how difficult it is to kill them when you make one attempt, miss, and they wildly jump about.. thus making you squeal and dodge and hope they don’t jump onto your leg?
    … or was that just me?

    death to all “spickets” !!

  16. Karen says:

    Thanks for the tips on getting these ugly things. They are coming up from my basement. I have lived here 45 years and this is the first time I got these things, I have been using a fly swatter and now I am deciding which one of your methods to try, They seem to multiplying.

  17. Charlie Pell says:

    We used the sticky tape option. It works great. Recommended by Charlie at the hardware store. Unfortunately, a small garter snake got stuck in the tape as well. We’ve left it there hoping the snake carcass will act as bait to attract more crickets.

  18. My mom called me and was suddenly in hysterics over this (which made a hilarious phone call.) Apparently, she’s been having a helluva time with these. One was even in her purse.
    I’ll share this with her so she knows her options ;)

  19. cheryl says:

    How do I kill it I’m scared he was sitting on my steps and I about died and I tired killing it but he just didint seem to die

  20. Kristin says:

    Yikes! I see one of these critters in my basement pretty much every evening. I’ve been killing them with common household cleaners (Windex, Fantastic) and it seems to work. So far I see about one a day and I’ve seen a few dead ones lying around the back of my house. I’ve lived in this house for five years now and this is the first time we’ve ever had a problem.

  21. Keisha says:

    I can not stand these things either!!! They are getting on my nerves!! And they are not afraid of me!!! So I have chosen the bug spray option and i am about to get the sticky tape and then I am moving…seriously. I live in my basement and I just can take it any more.

    I have also discovered that the fireplace may by the source of this problem as well. By I am NOT going to pull back the metal curtains to find out. I will be sealing it up and so these nasty things can leave me alone!!!

    Enjoyed the post!

  22. _babygirl175 says:

    I have a cat that’s part simease and I’m glad cause it kills these ugly suckers!

  23. so not looking to be amused by these creepy bugs that are suddenly pouncing on me in my house. I never even knew they existed and now every day I see a couple inside. I keep my house cool, but it isn’t damp (no mold!) We have a crawl space but I have never (will never) crawled into it to see if that is the breeding zone . . .can you come up with a clever trap my scottish terrier will not ‘set off’ or eat? she does play with the crickets when she sees them, but doesn’t kill them, grrr!!

  24. Ron Narozny says:

    I’ve been researching camel crickets for quite some time. For a while, I thought my area was the only area. Then, I found your blog post, and got excited.

    The sad part is…I live in Swarthmore. So, not as excited anymore.

  25. teresa mercedes says:

    I am desperate. grateful I found you! I woke up a week ago, to one on my arm. was severely traumatized. so I’m sitting in bed tonight, and one comes hopping up from the foot of my bed and headed straight for me!!!!! Two in my bed!!! Within a week.of each other!!! Freddy Krueger time cause I don’t think ill ever sleep again!! It’s Satan.taunting me, of this I’m sure. Thanks so much for your tips, I’m spending the rest of my morning attaching duct tape all around the perimeter of my room and on my knees in pra.yer.

  26. Stacy says:

    I’m terrified of these nasty bugs. I used glue traps in my gargle to catch them however I think they are in my fireplace please help me!!!

  27. Nancy Otten says:

    I’m so happy to find out what these things are! Live on a slab, so there’s no basement, they’re in my house. I use spray, or step on them, let them dry, then vacuum them up! I usually have at least four each day, in all rooms! NEVER had anything like them before! I’m going to try the sticky tape thing, see if I get more! Hate them, and they make me MAD!

  28. Jan Semler says:

    Hi Colin. We have had crickets in our basement for a few years but now the situation is getting out of hand. At the Thanksgiving table, just as I was reciting the many blessings for which I am thankful, Anna screamed “OMG it’s a cricket!” Next thing I knew she was standing in her chair and all the other guests were freaking out. It was hilarious! Seriously, we have been using glue traps (which get absolutely filled) but I’m ready to poison these suckers. No more Mrs. Nice Guy.

    Our crickets live in a little-used outdoor entrance to the basement, where it is impossible to make the opening airtight. Any idea what type of poison to use? Do you know of a bait they can feast on together? I’d like to give them their own “Thanksgiving feast.”

    • I don’t know of a cricket-specific poison, but I’m sure that an ant trap would work. Just break it open so that the bait is exposed, and make sure the cats can’t reach it. If you do cats, that is.

      • Ashley says:

        I just moved into my first house and they’re everywhere! I pulled back my shower curtain this morning and one was in my tub. I was late for work this morning trying to catch it. Can an exterminator kill these creeps??

  29. Ok, we rent a place in Indianapolis that does not have a basement but does have a crawl space and we too are seeing these ugly FAST moving and jumping spickets nightly at least. Usually in the kitchen around the cabinets where they meet the floor, the one bedroom off the kitchen and the small bath also off the kitchen. They just freak me out. when I first saw one I wondered if it were some kind of mutant spider or mutant cricket or grasshopper. but then they don’t make the sounds that crickets make. Do they bite or hurt people or are they just a nuisance? I think we will try the sticky duct tape approach first. YUK!!

    • They do have mouthparts and can bite (they have to eat, you know!), but they certainly don’t seek out opportunities to attack humans. They are gentle little insects, though beyond annoying in large numbers, as you know.

  30. Alexis says:

    We have them in our basement. Just an odd one here and there so they never really bothered me until tonight. Tonight I brought a load of laundry downstairs and started loading it in the washer when I felt an itch. I bent down and scratched my knee but my knee felt cold under my sweat pants. I lifted up my pants to look at what was sticking to my knee and a smooshed cricket started to emerge. I will never not be skeeved out again! Permanent skeeve! IT JUMPED UP MY PANTS!!!!!

  31. colton wilson says:

    One was looking at my dog like it wanted to kill it but I went ” SNEAK ATTACK” and brutally smashed it

  32. Larry says:

    I was told to buy a few large, sticky mouse traps. The duct tape idea is a good one too. I don’t know how high they can jump but it seems like they can jump about 6 feet and disappear. I have light colored carpet and they looked like specks of dirt or lint at first. Until one jumped in my direction. Funny, I am still seeing them in February. They started appearing in September. Not a lot of them. At first I thought it was only one until I saw a dead one and a live one a few days later. Unfortunately there is a fireplace in the basement and an unfinished section that can get damp. And I just moved here last June.

  33. Stompswithfeet says:

    I have them in my basement. I noticed that they love to chow on rodent poison . I don’t know if that would affect them though.

    • Some rodenticides are toxic to insects. But not all. Would be interesting research experiment: raise camel crickets on, say, warfarin bait … then test toxicity of camel crickets when they are fed to rats. I’m assuming rats eat crickets … mice certainly do.

  34. Bobbie says:

    The easiest thing to do is set glue traps. They love the smell of the glue and get caught by the dozens. Of course, like mouse traps, they have to be picked up. Ugh. Actually, they are mouse traps. Mice attempting to down a tasty snack consisting of trapped cave crickets are soon glued along with what was to be a fine repast.That removal really sucks.

  35. Hank Roberts says:

    One suggestion for drying out under your house, if not done already — get extensions for your downspouts to carry water ten feet or more away from the foundation. You can use corrugated flexible pipe, you can bury that in a shallow trench so you can mow over it. You can get springy-plastic things that roll out when rain starts to fill them up and roll back up once it stops. Check that your rain gutters are actually delivering water to the downspouts, not overflowing.

    Oh, and if, like my mom, you decide to have an old underground heating oil tank replaced — fortunately before it rusts out and suffuses stinky heating oil underneath your house — when they dig it up to take it out, make sure they’ve prepared properly* to fill the hole. (And don’t let them just fill it with sand, as it will still rust out and it’s not entirely empty. Really, it’s not.)

    Properly means filling the hole solidly with clay, not sand or topsoil, and shaping the top so water runs off away from the foundation. It might mean also putting in a water barrier along the foundation, and trenching and more of that corrugated pipe leading out and downhill to carry water away.

    Properly does NOT mean filling the hole with cheap gravel creating a sump that collects rainwater that then runs underneath your house causing the foundation to crack. Properly means you watch them until they’ve finished doing it right. Do not turn away during the operation. Make sure they expect to do it right and have estimated what they’ll charge you accordingly, and then earn that.

    Crickets? You were just worried about _crickets_? Crickets are a symptom.

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