One of the more startling insects found in Kentucky is the camel cricket, also known as the cave cricket or cellar cricket.
Dr. Lee Townsend, extension entomologist with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, has provided some good information about these unusual creatures.
The camel cricket’s name comes from the insect’s humpbacked appearance. Cave cricket refers to the dark, damp, musty places which they inhabit.
They are creepy; very long thin antennae and long spider-like legs are their main features. The strong hind jumping legs launch them several feet into the air when approached. It’s an unnerving sight when you unexpectedly disturb one.
These insects usually live in cool, damp places, such as in the soil under rock or wood piles. Around houses, they can be found in basements, crawl spaces, storage rooms, garages or pump houses. These insects often move indoors in the fall and spend the winter in buildings. The crickets will eat almost anything and can damage stored articles where they are living.
Camel crickets lay their eggs in moist soil, in dirt floors of crawl spaces or along foundations. The immature and adult stages are active at night and can move easily through cracks and crevices or under doors into other areas of a structure.
As with many pests, habitat modification is the most effective way to reduce or eliminate problems.
— Reduce humidity by improving air movement in areas where crickets are seen regularly.
— Ventilation openings should be screened to prevent entry from the outdoors.
— Eliminate clutter; stack stored items off the floor and away from walls to improve drying and to allow placement of sticky traps to capture crickets and monitor their locations and abundance.
— Clean overgrown vegetation along foundations.
Boric acid dust or any of a variety of household insecticides, such as Ortho, Spectracide or Raid indoor and outdoor aerosols, will kill camel crickets. They should be applied into cracks and crevices where the crickets hide according to label directions.
For additional information about insect management, please call the Clark County Office of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service at 744-4682.