Tag Archives: Rhaphidophoridae

Greenhouse camel crickets (Tachycines asynamorus)

Here are some photographs of greenhouse camel crickets (Tachycines asynamorus) that I recently found around my house. I gather the common name was applied when it (and related T. japanica) first came to Europe from Asia and took up residence in conservatories. I’m not positive, but I think before that invasion the name “camel cricket” was commonly applied to the praying mantis (I have no idea why but perhaps because mantises are very heat tolerant).

For annoyed taxonomists: Latin name used to be Diestrammena asynamora but is now Tachycines asynamorus for reasons that are beyond me but are apparently explained in Qin et al. 2018. Nobody seems to use the new name except iNaturalist. But I use iNaturalist a lot so I’m going to give the new name a try.

Juvenile greenhouse camel cricket (Tachycines asynamorus) in bathroom sink

This is a juvenile that I found in my bathroom sink. I think they go through 10 instars and I’m guessing this is a 3rd instar male (lacks an ovipositor). It was pretty cute.

Female greenhouse camel cricket (Tachycines asynamorus) in cat litter

Camel crickets love to eat cat feces (don’t judge) so it’s pretty common to find them lurking here, sometimes in large groups. I don’t think the females lay eggs in cat litter but I’ve always been curious. Not curious enough to examine more closely, though.

Female greenhouse camel cricket (Tachycines asynamorus) in cat litter

This is the same individual as above but shows the ovipositor and impressive length of the antennae. The antennae apparently have the ability to sense heat. That’s probably a fact most people don’t want to know.

Female greenhouse camel cricket (Tachycines asynamorus) on stacked firewood

This female was in the woodpile near my garage. It was a cold day so she didn’t immediately launch herself away. They often seem to jump at you, a behavior that doesn’t endear them to folks who think the crickets are actually spiders. I think their jump can max out at 1 1/2 meters, which is pretty impressive. They can’t fly, though, because they lack wings (and are thus silent). Note that placing woodpiles near your house is one way people inadvertently introduce camel crickets into their houses.

Greenhouse camel cricket (Tachycines asynamorus) frass on wall

These three gooey splotches are frass. If you have a large population of camel crickets your wall will become darkened with this spots. I’ve been trying to figure out why they are liquid but haven’t come up with any explanations yet.

If you’re fascinated by greenhouse camel crickets there’s a great article at Your Wild Life that describes how different species are invading the United States. If you just want to kill them I have a few ideas.

My invention sucks more than before

This post shows a new setup for my automated system to vacuum camel crickets. The entire system (photograph below) now resides in a cardboard box, so it’s easily movable (I’ll be making cricket-sized holes around base, though, so they can approach from all sides).  Vacuum tube is now hidden behind box, but with a clear plastic dining tube attached and extending into the middle of the box.  Food bait is inserted into the dining tube at the end of a wire that is hooked around the tube entrance so that food is not vacuumed away along with cricket.  A Belkin WeMo motion sensor is suspended from above using a flexible wire that allows me to fuss with distance and angle.  Motion-sensing, battery-powered lights flank the dining arena. These lights have been covered in red paper so that the camel crickets are not as alarmed by the sudden illumination.  Finally, a Belkin Netcam HD is trained on the arena so that I can get alerts when there is something about to happen, just in case I can spare a moment to watch (it has infrared illumination). As per before, the motion sensor activates the vacuum, briefly, then resets for the next one — the system is fully automated and works 24/7. It really sucks.

 colin purrington photography: Blog photos &emdash; camel-cricket-vacuum-arena

Using motion-activated vacuum cleaner to control camel crickets

For those of you with camel cricket infestations in your basement, this should be of interest.  The technique below should also work for field biologists needing to collect small animals whose size is smaller than a shop-vac tube.

Here’s what you’ll need: vacuum cleaner, motion-sensing lamp, Belkin WeMo motion switch, bait. Yes, it involves bait and switch, so how could this go wrong? Anyway, set them up in a dingy basement like shown below:

colin purrington photography: Blog photos &emdash; automated-cricket-suckerThe photograph below shows the a close-up of the sucking arena.  Motion-activated lamp is the square white object, back left.  You need that only if the basement is usually dark, in which case the motion sensing switch wouldn’t work. Black tube is the vacuum.  Foil tube is a blinder for the motion sensor so that I can be in basement without it going off all the time.  The plastic water bottle was initially there to provide a smaller enclosure to increase suction, but I don’t think you need it.  Bait is barely visible just to right of the green part on the vacuum tube.  I used leftover grilled salmon marinated in dill, plus a little caramelized parsnip.  Any bait will work, even a dead cricket.  Just secure the food inside a perforated plastic bag so that the bait is not sucked up along with the cricket.

colin purrington photography: Blog photos &emdash; automated-animal-trapAfter all this is set up, bring up the WeMo app on your phone and make the rules you want your sensor/switch to follow.  Rule 1 should be: turn on switch / turn off immediately (this vacuums the cricket).  Rule 2 (optional) should be: notify me, every 5 minutes (this lets you know it’s working, and when). It’s really nice to wake up and get the report on the night’s anti-cricket war, fought with drone vacuums.

colin purrington photography: Blog photos &emdash; crickets-sucked-wemo

Just in case you doubt that all this works, here’s victim number one.  She has lots of company now.

colin purrington photography: Blog photos &emdash; cricket-in-vacuumBy the way, I first tested this setup using my Rigid shop vac, but it turned out to be so powerful that the sensor was sucked up, ripping the power unit right off the outlet.  If you need that kind of power (to sample mice, for example), just be sure everything is really, really firmly attached.

If you’d like to see it in action, here’s a short clip (new window). I know I should get a motion-sensing camera to record an actual cricket biting it. Perhaps some other day.

If you have a camel cricket problem like I do, please also see my “Getting rid of camel crickets” page.