Have a camel cricket infestation? I did, and I have some gratuitous advice for anyone who’d like to exterminate them.
Camel crickets 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. And there’s even an Australian species that eats one of its legs when sufficiently hungry (watch the video, if you dare). You can tell you have a large population when their frass colors everything a dark brown. If the population is really large, mice will 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.
How to get rid of them
- Make sticky traps out of duct tape. Just invert the tape into a loop with the sticky surface on the outside, then place in moist areas in your basement. Place a piece of dry cat food or equivalent on the sticky surface. Crickets love that.
- If you’re feeling crafty and sciency, put duct tape onto boards and bait with different types of food, just to see what they like the best.
- Place containers of soapy water in your basement. They like water, and will fall into these containers and drown. (The soap is to counteract the waxy coating their exoskeletons have.) Again, if you’re home schooling your kids or just like doing stupid science projects to impress your friends, put different types of bait in the middle of these containers.
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.
- Hunt them with an Airsoft gun. But you have to have music that fits the task (ideally, 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. Of course, the crickets will probably eat the pellets. If you get a weapon for each member of your family, this can be a bonding experience., and can qualify for Family Home Evening if you live in Utah.
- 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 me out, truth be told. Our other cat, Danderfluff, seems to be scared of them, but probably squashes a few when she rolls on her back.
- Release predators. Mice love to eat camel crickets, so if you like mice, just get a few at local pet store and release them into your basement. Or get one of those massive centipedes from the tropics — that would be awesome. But don’t get both — massive centipedes from the tropics eat mice (watch the video, if you dare).
- Spray with chemicals. They are insects, so most insecticides will work. But this is a lame response. You shouldn’t use chemicals, folks. If you make your basement toxic, you can’t lock your kids down there.
- Waterproof your basement. This is actually what I’ve been doing with my spare time. It really sucks. 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, which seem to have a dark, slimy, organic hue after 100 years of decomposition. If you cut off the moisture supply, you cut off of the fungal growth, and crickets will starve. That’s the plan, at least. During the process I’ve thought deeply about cave crickets and the questionable decision of buying an old house in a swamp. I’ve even had cementing/camel cricket nightmares.
- Move. This is a really attractive option.