Further refinements to my camel cricket control setup. Addition of a red “party light” illuminates the whole area so that the motion sensor works much better — no more motion-sensing lights in the system, as per initial design. Note: most insects don’t see red well, so it’s just dark to them. Just dab a little food onto the surface of the motion sensor, and they will come. And then they will go. Last night I caught approximately 30 crickets. While I slept. And upon waking, I could check my iPhone for the update from the WeMo app (I have it say, “Crickets sucked” at each event). Details on how to make your own. Two photographs below were taken by a Belkin Netcam HD automatically, when motion was sensed. Again, all while I slept.
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.
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:
The 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.
After 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.
Just in case you doubt that all this works, here’s victim number one. She has lots of company now.
By 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.