Camel Cricket Life Cycle: A Fascinating Journey Explained

Camel crickets are fascinating creatures found throughout the world, with over 100 different kinds in the United States and Canada.

These insects are unique as they don’t chirp like many other cricket species, as they have no sound-producing organs.

Typically residing in moist areas, such as under stones, logs, or in stacks of firewood, camel crickets thrive in habitats with overgrown vegetation.

They are also known to dwell in human-made structures like basements and caves.

Camel Cricket Life Cycle
Camel Cricket

Active mostly at night, these tiny wingless insects possess long antennae and strong hind legs that enable them to jump extensively.

Understanding the life cycle of camel crickets is crucial for those interested in insect biology or seeking to effectively deal with them in residential spaces.

Their life cycle involves several stages, including the egg, nymph, and adult forms.

During winter, these creatures usually exist as either nymphs or adults, metamorphosing into their various forms as they mature.

Understanding Camel Crickets

Physical Characteristics

Camel crickets are unique insects with a humpbacked appearance, which gives them their name.

They belong to the family Rhaphidophoridae within the order Orthoptera.

These crickets are wingless, with a body length of about 3/4 inch, and can vary in color from tan to reddish-brown or dark brown depending on the species and living environment.

They possess long antennae and enlarged hind legs, which are well-suited for strong jumping abilities1.

Some people may mistake them for spider crickets due to their spider-like appearance.

Camel Cricket

Habitat and Distribution

These crickets are found in various places around the world, with over 100 different species identified in the United States and Canada2.

They generally prefer cool, damp, and dark environments, and can commonly be found outdoors under logs, stones, and in the overgrown vegetation3.

During the winter months, camel crickets pass the time as nymphs or adults4.

Behavior and Nocturnal Nature

Camel crickets are primarily nocturnal insects, meaning they are most active during the night.

Their nocturnal nature helps them stay hidden from predators, and at the same time allows them to search for food sources, such as plant debris5.

Interestingly, unlike many other cricket species, camel crickets do not produce any sound, as they lack the necessary sound-producing organs6.

Camel Cricket Life Cycle

Reproduction and Egg Laying

Camel crickets reproduce by laying eggs.

Females are responsible for laying eggs in moist areas which provide a suitable environment for their development.

Development and Growth

The life cycle of camel crickets consists of several stages, including nymphs and adults.

Nymphs are miniature versions of their parents, and their appearance is similar to that of the adults.

Camel crickets undergo a change in color throughout their life cycle. They can be found in shades of tan, reddish-brown, or dark brown.

Small Camel Crickets

Camel cricket development relies on the availability of proper darkness and moisture conditions.

In indoor settings, it’s unlikely they will reproduce successfully unless those conditions exist.

Here’s a comparison between nymphs and adult camel crickets:

Characteristic Nymphs Adults
Appearance Miniature adult-like Hump-backed, larger
Color Tan, reddish-brown Darker brown
Habitat Moist, dark areas Moist, dark areas

In summary, the life cycle of camel crickets involves reproduction through egg-laying, the development of nymphs into adults, and color changes throughout their growth.

Proper conditions, such as darkness and moisture, are essential for their successful development.

Diet and Predators

Food Preferences

Camel crickets are known for their diverse diet and are often found in dark and damp environments like basements and caves. These insects mainly feed on:

  • Organic debris
  • Fungi
  • Plant material
  • Dead insects

In some cases, they might also prey on other insects and display cannibalistic behavior when food is scarce.

Natural Enemies

Despite their ability to adapt to various environments, camel crickets face multiple threats from different predators.

Some of their most common natural enemies include:

  • Spiders
  • Scorpions
  • Rodents
  • Birds
  • Lizards

Camel crickets also face dangers from larger insects and hunters that are seeking insect prey in their territories.

Burrowing Owl eats Camel Cricket

Interesting Camel Cricket Facts

Jumping Abilities

  • Hind legs: Camel crickets have large hind legs that give them the ability to jump strongly.
  • Jump: These insects can jump a significant distance, using their powerful legs.

Relation to Grasshoppers and Spiders

Camel crickets share some characteristics with both grasshoppers and spiders:

  • Grasshoppers: Similar large hind legs enable jumping.
  • Spiders: Humpbacked appearance and long antennae.

Diversity of Species

Trait Camel Crickets Grasshoppers Spiders
Hind Legs Large Large None
Jumping Abilities Yes Yes No
Humpbacked Yes No Yes
Long Antennae Yes Yes No
Species Diversity Over 150 None None
Related organisms None None None

Conclusion

Camel crickets, with their unique characteristics and fascinating life cycle, are intriguing creatures found globally.

Adapting to various environments, they thrive in damp, dark habitats, and exhibit nocturnal behavior.

Understanding their life cycle, dietary habits, and the challenges they face from predators is essential for managing their presence in residential spaces and appreciating the diversity of insect life.

Footnotes

  1. Camel cricket | Arthropod Museum – University of Arkansas
  2. Camel Crickets | Home & Garden Information Center
  3. Camel Crickets | NC State Extension Publications
  4. Camel Crickets | NC State Extension Publications
  5. Crickets | UMN Extension
  6. Camel Crickets | Home & Garden Information Center

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about camel crickets. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Weta from Australia is King Cricket

Bug Identification
Sat, Jan 24, 2009 at 2:20 AM
Hi,
I would really appreciate your assistance in identifying this really bizarre looking insect, It has the body very similar to a cricket with a very strange head. On the underside it seems to have 3/4 of a smaller body inside its pincer type arms on its head (as seen in pic one).

The bug flew into my dogs water bowl and couldnt get out, so I found it and still cant beleive how weird looking it is.
BTW… I think you have next month’s bug of the month!
Thankyou,
Nikki, Australia
New South Wales, Australia

Weta
Weta

Hi Nikki,
This is a Weta, one of a family of insects endemic to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa whose closest relatives are the Potato Bugs or Jerusalem Crickets of the American West.

There is a photo posted on Wikipedia of a Wellington Tree Weta, Hemideina crassidens, that looks very much like your specimen, but all indications are that the Wellington Tree Weta is only found in New Zealand.

Weta
Weta

Perhaps your specimen is closely related in the same genus, but we are having problems locating information. Many species of Weta are endangered and are protected by law. Perhaps one of our readers will supply us with a link and identification.

Weta
Weta

Nikki, your bug looks like a King Cricket, Australostoma. They live in burrows and come out on wet or humid nights. They are found in coastal New South Wales.
See a photo at
http://www.austmus.gov.au/factSheets/grasshoppers.htm
Grev

Letter 2 – Winged Weta from Australia

giant cricket like bug?
Location: sydney australia, garden apt.
October 31, 2010 8:43 am
i was hoping you could ID this bug for me. it was about 3 inches long with maybe 7 inch antennae. it’s body was thick and mobile, curling it’s pelvis under and then out again.
Signature: thank you!

Winged Weta

Though your image is blurry and not the best quality, we were of the opinion that it represents a Winged Weta, but alas, we were having problems locating any information on Winged Wetas, also known as King Crickets. 

We did find an online reference to the New Zealand Entomologist 26:  75-77 (December 2003) with an article entitled A winged weta, Pterapotrechus (Orthoptera:  Gryllacrididae), established in New Zealand. It is described as “a golden-brown insect. 

Adults are 30 mm to 37 mm long, with enlarged hind legs, the males often being larger than the females.  It has long filamentous antennae; rows of large spines on the fore-tibiae, and adults of both sexes are fully winged.  Adult females have a 15 mm long slender curved swordlike ovipositor. 

The forewings are soft and pliable, and wrap around the body behind the pronotum.  they extend a little beyond the tip of the abdomen.”  The included image is of a female, and since your specimen does not appear to possess an ovipositor, it must be a male.  Wikimedia Commons also has an image of a female Winged Weta.

THANK YOU!!!!
You guys are amazing!! I am an instant fan and SO grateful for your ID.
Many many thanks!!!

hi Daniel,
I just looked up what 37mm is in inches and this makes me think we don’t actually have a winged weta. our bug was at least 2.5 inches, i think more like 3 (63 – 70mm). making ours twice the size. and again, the antennae were at least 6 inches, but really more like 8. ridiculously long…i’m sorry the picture isn’t better!
there was no ovipositor but there seemed to be a something like a prong at the end of the body.

lastly, the wings looked almost moist. sort of papery and wrinkled.
could our bug be a baby? meaning, could that be why it’s hard to find, because it will soon look different from what it is now?

Your bug is not a baby.  We are inclined to think several things regarding the size discrepancy.  First, official sizes probably represent an average, not the extremes.  Second, the species in Australia may be different, but we still believe it is a Winged Weta.  Third, people often think the bugs they see are much larger than they actually are.

Letter 3 – Weta from Australia, we believe

Strange bug in NSW Australia
Location: Central NSW, Australia
December 7, 2010 7:22 pm
i found this weird burrowing insect in central NSW, i think its some kind of Weta but cant find any useful information.
please help me identify it
Signature: Australian Weta’s??

Weta, we believe

We are inclined to agree with you on both counts.  We also believe this is probably some species of Weta, a group of insects endemic to New Zealand, but with close relatives in South Africa as well as Australia whose closest North American relatives are the Potato Bugs of the west, especially the arid southwest. 

We also agree that it is quite difficult to find out information on the Australian relatives and that New Zealand promotes these endangered insects like the Royal Society of Biological Sciences website

The long ovipositor indicates she is a female.  We will contact Piotr Naskrecki, who specializes in Katydids, to see if he can provide any information.

I actually have another question about the bug that i was hoping you could help me with, being a Ground Weta would the hole i found the bug in be its home or could the weta actually be laying eggs?.

thanks for the help i found it to be very useful, now that i have a better idea of what the bug is it will be interesting to keep an eye on it and see how it lives in its environment.

The area i found the Weta in is a popular place for New Zealand workers and their families so it is possible that the Weta could have come over to Australia from New Zealand.

Hi again,
We would hazard a guess that this is a burrow that might be used to house a clutch of eggs as well.  We are still waiting for a response from Piotr Naskrecki regarding the creature’s identity.

Letter 4 – Weta from Australia

king crickets
Hi guys,
I have been searching the web trying to find information on these guys other wise called wetas. I can find lots on the New Zealand version but we are in Brisbane QLD. I have two variations at the moment but we are not sure if their colour variation means that they are a sub species or just that their colour varies.

The three I have are only on loan for a week, so I can photograph them. I would however like to know a little more about their habits, like how long they live? I have a couple of pics of only one variety that I shall attach to this email. If you can offer any info or point me in the right direction it would be greatly appreciated, thank you.
Sam

Hi Sam,
We really don’t know much about Wetas, also called Saddleback Bush Crickets. They are not true crickets, and are in the same family as the Jerusalem Cricket or Potato Bug found in the arid regions of the American Southwest. Try searching our Potato Bug page for old links to Weta information.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

11 thoughts on “Camel Cricket Life Cycle: A Fascinating Journey Explained”

  1. The specimen looks very like Anostotstoma australasiae (Orthoptera: Anostostomatidae) a well known species from Qld and New South Wales, commonly known as the Giant King Cricket, known since 1837. Or it may be something very close to this species. Theres an old b/w line drawing shown in paper 362 from my website http://www.calodema.com

    Thank you, Trevor

    Reply
  2. I made a typo, the genus should be Anostostoma as in the family name. Not much has been recorded on these creatures. But they make good pets!

    Best regards, Trevor

    Reply
  3. Hi. This insect looks identical to the South Island/NZ tree weta. I find them often on rainy nights in Northern NSW,
    they are usually on the road.

    Reply
  4. Hi. This insect looks identical to the South Island/NZ tree weta. I find them often on rainy nights in Northern NSW,
    they are usually on the road.

    Reply
  5. I live in Braidwood NSW and just had one of these in my bathroom. It is fairly aggressive and bit a leaf I put in front of it. What do I do with it????

    Reply
  6. We found a large winged weta in our house in auckland today . Also large. Was a female with ovipositor. Including ovipositor it is over 5cm. Maybe growing larger in nz?

    Reply

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