What Do Camel Crickets Eat? A Quick Guide to Their Diet

folder_openInsecta, Orthoptera
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Camel crickets, also known as cave crickets, are a unique group of insects that thrive in moist and dark environments.

They might not chirp like their cricket counterparts, but they have a distinct appearance with large hind legs and a humpbacked body.

As a homeowner, you may have encountered these creatures in basements, crawlspaces, or garages, and may be wondering: what do camel crickets eat?

Well, you’re in for an interesting discovery. Camel crickets are opportunistic feeders with a diverse diet.

Camel Cricket

These crickets are omnivorous, which means they’ll munch on both plant and animal matter. Sometimes, they might even feed on each other or scavenge on dead insects.

To keep your home free from camel cricket infestations, focusing on eliminating their food sources and preferred habitats can be quite helpful.

By doing so, you’re not only improving the overall cleanliness but also ensuring these intriguing crickets stay outdoors where they belong.

Understanding Camel Crickets

Camel crickets are an interesting group of insects. They’re often confused with cave crickets due to their similarities. Here’s what you should know about these fascinating creatures:

These nocturnal insects can be identified by their brown color, humpbacked appearance, and large antennae.

While they don’t look like typical crickets, they share some traits with their cricket cousins. For instance:

  • Both have long antennae
  • Both are nocturnal
  • Both range in size, with some species measuring up to an inch long

Camel crickets, however, differ from other cricket species in several ways.

One key difference to note is that camel crickets don’t chirp, as they lack sound-producing organs. Additionally, unlike other cricket species, camel crickets are wingless.

It’s worthwhile to mention some differences between camel crickets and cave crickets:

FeatureCamel CricketsCave Crickets
WingsNoneNone
SoundSilent (no chirp)Can produce some quiet sound
HabitatMoist outdoor areas, basementsCaves, basements
Hind legsLarge, powerfulLarge, powerful
AntennaeLongLong

These insects can be found across different habitats, including moist outdoor areas such as beneath stones, logs, or stacks of firewood. Overgrown vegetation also provides excellent hiding places for them.

Now that you’re familiar with camel crickets’ appearance and behavior, it’s easier to identify them in your surroundings and appreciate their unique place among the world of insects.

Camel Cricket

Habitat and Infestation

Camel crickets are commonly found in the US and prefer dark, moist environments.

Outdoors, they can be found in caves, under stones, and in woodpiles. In your yard, they seek shelter in tall grass, mulch, and holes in the ground.

They can even live in greenhouses if conditions are cool and well-ventilated.

You might encounter camel crickets indoors if there’s sufficient moisture in your household. They often infest damp basements, crawl spaces, garages, and areas near windows and walls.

These insects are light to dark brown in color and can sometimes be confused with spiders due to their large hind legs.

Camel crickets are attracted to buildings by moisture, so keeping your home dry and well-ventilated is essential in preventing an infestation.

As a friendly reminder, it’s crucial to:

  • Regularly inspect and seal cracks or gaps outside your house.
  • Remove tall grass, excess mulch, and woodpiles from your yard.
  • Properly ventilate damp areas such as basements, garages, and crawl spaces to keep them dry.

Doing so will create an unfavorable habitat for camel crickets and help reduce any chances of an infestation in your home.

Behaviors and Characteristics

In this section, we will explore the habits and features of camel crickets, focusing on their jumping ability, nocturnal nature, and nuisance factor.

One of the most noticeable traits of camel crickets is their impressive jumping ability. They possess large hind legs that enable them to leap great distances when they feel threatened or are seeking food.

You might be surprised at just how far they can jump with those strong legs.

Being nocturnal creatures, camel crickets are most active at night, which means you’re more likely to encounter them during those hours.

They prefer to hide in dark, moist, and humid areas, often in basements or other concealed locations within homes.

Some key characteristics of camel crickets include:

  • Large hind legs for jumping
  • Long antennae for touch sensations
  • No wings or sound-producing organs
  • Brownish, humpbacked body

Due to their preference for hiding in moist areas, camel crickets can sometimes become a nuisance in people’s homes.

They are attracted to damp, dark places and can inadvertently enter houses in search of such environments.

However, it is essential to remember that they are not harmful creatures, though they undoubtedly startle people with their sudden leaps and nocturnal habits.

Camel Cricket

What Do Camel Crickets Eat?

Camel crickets are not picky eaters. They mainly feed on plant matter and fungi, but they are also known to consume other materials.

For example, camel crickets may feast on:

  • Cloth and fabric
  • Cardboard
  • Paper products
  • Some types of houseplants

Because they can eat a variety of materials, camel crickets may cause damage to your possessions, particularly fabrics and textiles. However, they also play a vital role in breaking down organic matter in the environment.

In terms of what they prefer, here’s a comparison table for some materials:

MaterialCamel Cricket Preference
Cloth
Fabric
Cardboard
Plants
Fungi

So, if you have a camel cricket infestation at home, it’s essential to remove their food sources. By keeping your home clean and regularly disposing of cardboard and paper products, you can deter these pests and protect your belongings.

Prevention and Control

Camel crickets can be a nuisance in your home. To prevent and control these pests, you should take some steps.

First, inspect your house for cracks and holes where they might enter. Seal any gaps you find using caulk or expandable foam.

When you’ve sealed their entry points, you can focus on keeping them away.

These insects thrive in moist environments, so you need to reduce dampness in your home.

Use dehumidifiers to lower humidity levels and fix any water leaks to avoid creating their preferred habitat.

Camel crickets are also attracted to dark spaces.

Make sure your home is well-ventilated and maintain adequate lighting, particularly in crawl spaces and basements.

One way to get rid of camel crickets is by using sticky traps.

Place traps near suspected entry points or areas where they may gather.

Another option is to use insecticides, but these should be applied with care as they can be harmful to humans and pets.

Camel Cricket

Similarly, cedar oil can be an effective natural repellent. Apply it to windows, doorways, and floors to keep the crickets at bay.

Some additional tips to help you control camel crickets include:

  • Regularly clean and vacuum your home, paying special attention to corners and behind furniture where they might hide
  • Store your belongings in airtight containers to prevent them from becoming a hiding place for camel crickets
  • Remove piles of debris from around your home to reduce their outdoor hiding spots

By following these suggestions, you can keep your home free from camel crickets and ensure a more comfortable living space.

Potential Risks and Dangers

Camel crickets, although not known to bite humans, can pose certain risks and dangers due to their feeding behavior. They often eat various materials, which can potentially lead to damage or infestation in your home.

Some risks camel crickets pose include:

  • Damage to fabrics: Camel crickets can feed on fabrics like clothes, curtains, and upholstery. This may result in holes or unsightly damage.
  • Infestation: If there are suitable conditions, camel crickets can multiply and create an infestation within your home, causing discomfort and potential damage

On the other hand, these crickets also prey on some unwanted pests:

  • Spider control: Camel crickets may help control spider populations by feeding on them, reducing the number of spiders in your home.

However, be aware of some other potential dangers:

  • Poisonous concerns: Camel crickets are not poisonous, but some spiders they might feed on can be. It’s essential to take precautions if you notice an increase in spider activity around your living space.
  • Disease risk: Although not common, camel crickets could potentially carry diseases through their feces or by consuming contaminated materials. It is essential to keep your living spaces clean and take measures to control their population.

Remember to treat any potential risks and dangers from camel crickets with care. Taking early action will keep your home and belongings safe in the long run.

Camel Cricket

Lifecycle of Camel Crickets

Camel crickets go through a simple lifecycle, which includes eggs, nymphs, and adult stages. Let’s explore each stage briefly.

Eggs: Camel crickets lay their eggs in damp and dark places, providing a conducive environment for their development. In this stage, the eggs are fragile and usually hidden from predators.

Nymphs: After hatching, camel crickets enter the nymph stage. These immature crickets look almost identical to adults but are smaller in size. They prefer moist areas such as under stones, logs, or stacks of firewood1. During this stage, they molt several times as they grow, shedding their exoskeletons to make room for their enlarging bodies.

Adults: As fully-grown camel crickets, these insects continue to reside in dark, moist habitats. They lack the sound-producing organs and wings found in other cricket species2. An interesting fact about camel crickets is that they may overwinter as either nymphs or adults and can live for as long as two years3.

  • Pros of camel crickets:
    • Efficient at consuming organic matter, helping in decomposition
    • They do not chirp or make noise like other crickets
    • Typically non-aggressive and do not bite
  • Cons of camel crickets:
    • Can become a nuisance if they infest your home
    • Might damage fabrics and other materials when seeking cellulose food sources

Other Camel Cricket Types

You might be interested to know that there are other types of camel crickets besides the common camel cricket.

Some of these include spider crickets, cave crickets, sprickets, and spricket. All these types have some common characteristics, but with certain differences.

First, let’s talk about spider crickets. These crickets are often mistaken for spiders due to their long legs. They are adept at jumping, which can startle unsuspecting people. Like camel crickets, they also prefer moist and dark environments.

Cave crickets, as the name implies, are commonly found in caves but can also be found in damp basements and crawl spaces. They share similar features with camel crickets, such as brownish color, large hind legs, and long antennae.

Now, let’s discuss sprickets. This term is actually a combination of “spider” and “cricket,” referring to crickets that look like spiders and possess similar characteristics as both spider and camel crickets.

Robust Camel Cricket

Finally, the term spricket can also refer to cricket species that resemble spiders and share the same features as camel crickets. These crickets jump rather than crawl when they move4.

In summary:

  • Spider crickets resemble spiders and can jump.
  • Cave crickets are found in caves and share features with camel crickets.
  • Sprickets and spricket are similar to spider and camel crickets.

Now that you’re familiar with these various types of camel crickets, you can better understand their unique features and how they may affect your home or garden.

Interesting Facts

Camel crickets are found across the globe, including in Asia. They’re unique insects that prefer damp areas like basements, caves, and even sometimes your lawn.

Diet: Surprisingly, you’ll find that camel crickets aren’t picky eaters. They feed on various things, from organic matter like plants and fungi to other insects.

No Chirping: Unlike their cricket relatives, camel crickets don’t produce any sound. They lack sound-producing organs, which makes them quiet critters.

Lifespan: These interesting insects can live up to two years, as they may overwinter either as nymphs or adults.

Cave Connection: Camel crickets are also called cave crickets due to their habitat preferences. They love damp, dark places like caves and are a common sight in those environments.

Here are a few more facts about camel crickets:

  • They have a distinctive humpbacked appearance, which gives them their “camel” nickname.
  • They’re wingless insects, making them incapable of flight.
  • They can coexist with humans over long periods. Historically, a camel cricket carving found in a French cave dated back between 17,000 and 12,000 years ago.
  • Camel crickets have large hind legs and long antennae.

As for their predators, camel crickets can fall prey to various animals, from birds to lizards or larger insects like spiders. In Asia, possible predators could include geckos and tokay geckos.

Conclusion

In conclusion, camel crickets are fascinating, adaptable insects with a unique appearance and lifestyle.

Thriving in dark, moist environments, they are omnivorous feeders, contributing to the ecosystem by breaking down organic matter.

While they can be a nuisance in homes, understanding their behavior and habitat preferences can aid in effective prevention and control.

Their presence reminds us of the diverse and intricate world of insects that exists even in our immediate surroundings.

Footnotes

  1. Camel Crickets | NC State Extension Publications 2

  2. Camel Crickets | Home & Garden Information Center 2

  3. Camel Cricket – the Rest of the Story – Field Station 2

  4. Crickets | UMN Extension

Reader Emails

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

Letter 1 – Square Legged Camel Cricket from Oregon

Subject:  Id bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Seaside oregon
Date: 07/30/2021
Time: 05:22 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  What kind of bug is this
How you want your letter signed:  Billl

Square Legged Camel Cricket

Dear Billl,
Originally we thought this Orthopteran was a Shieldback Katydid, but we now believe it to be a Square Legged Camel Cricket,
Tropidischia xanthostoma, which is pictured on BugGuide.  According to BugGuide:  “Dark color and long slender legs are characteristic” and it is found “Near Pacific Coast from California to British Columbia.”  According to Insect Identification for the Casual Observer:  “Square-legged Cricket Camels have normal-sized bodies but extraordinarily long legs. The shape of the legs, especially visible at the joints, is squared, not round like one might expect. These edges have small ridges or teeth that help accentuate the corners. When they walk, they resemble spiders, but it can also hop because it is a cricket. Square-legged Cricket Camels do not bite, nor do they sting. Females have a curved, spine-like ovipositor that is used to bury eggs. It is sometimes mistaken for a thick stinger, but it is harmless.  This species is a West Coast native that can be found near water or further inland. Its varied diet of insects, detritus, vegetation, fungi, and even feces make it easy to find a meal.”

Letter 2 – Parktown Prawn or King Cricket AKA Weta

Parktown Prawn
Dear Bugman
Not really a candidate for worst bug story ever, but definitely the reason I check inside my shoes before I put them on in the morning, don’t swat anything I feel tickling my face at night, don’t put my hand into dark spaces without checking first. They have a horrible black inky substance they spray when scared and jump quite high. A friend has moved house to get away from them. I’ve heard that they are mole crickets or king crickets? They look a lot like the camel crickets on your site? The Parktown prawn (since they used to be very prolific in the Johannesburg suburb Parktown) (Libanasidus vittatus) is a species of large South African cricket in the family Anostostomatidae. Adults are usually around 4 to 5 centimeters in length, with an antennae of 2 cm.(Wikipedia)
Lynn.

Hi Lynn,
Thanks for the great letter and photo. The family Anostostomatidae also contains the Wetas of New Zealand. This family is closely related to the family Stenopelmatidae which contains the Potato Bugs of Jerusalem Crickets of the Western U.S.

Letter 3 – Burrowing Owl eats Camel Cricket

Subject: Need ID of Insect ASAP
Location: Rocky Mountain Arsenal NWR, Colorado
July 1, 2014 12:54 pm
Hello! I’m a professional photojournalist. I recently photographed an owl eating an insect I have not been able to identify. I’d greatly appreciate your help in determining the identity of this interesting bug. See the attached image. The location was Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Colorado, and the date was June 21. Thanks in advance for your help!
Signature: Jenny E. Ross

Owl Eats Orthopteran
Owl Eats Ensiferan

Dear Jenny,
Do you know what species of owl this is? We believe the insect is an Orthopteran, and we will search BugGuide to try to determine its identity.
  We have also cropped, enhanced and sharpened an enlargement of just the Orthopteran which resulted in a degradation of image quality, so we would prefer a higher resolution of the closeup as we have cropped it to assist in the identification.  It appears to have the long antennae of the suborder Ensifera.

Camel Cricket in the clutches of a Burrowing Owl
Camel Cricket in the clutches of a Burrowing Owl

Dear Daniel,
The owl is an adult female western burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia hypugaea). I have attached another cropped version of the same photograph per your instructions, as well as several additional cropped photographs of the same insect being held in different positions by the owl. I’m unsure how large you need me to make the image files, so if these aren’t large enough just let me know. (My original raw files are quite large, but – having just returned from my trip – I haven’t post-processed them yet. To save time I made these files for you directly from the unprocessed jpegs I shot simultaneously with the raw files.)
Thanks very much for your help!
Jenny

Camel Cricket and Burrowing Owl
Camel Cricket and Burrowing Owl

Hi again Jenny,
These new images are very helpful.  We thought at first in the original image this might be a Mormon Cricket, but that is not correct.  We believe it is a Camel Cricket, perhaps in the subfamily Ceuthophilinae.  Some likely candidates are New Mexico Camel Cricket,
Styracosceles neomexicanus, which is pictured on BugGuide, or some member of the genus  Ceuthophilus, which is also well represented on BugGuide.  We will try to contact Katydid expert Piotr Naskrecki as well as Eric Eaton to get their input.
P.S.  We got an autoreply that Piotr is in Mozambique through the end of July and we will most likely not be getting a response from him soon.

Burrowing Owl eats Camel Cricket
Burrowing Owl eats Camel Cricket

Hi Daniel,
I really appreciate your efforts on this.
In case you’re not familiar with the size of an adult female burrowing owl to use for scale, this insect was quite large. I believe it was at least 3 inches long. (The apparent size in some of the photographs is a bit deceptive, because the bug was being crushed by the owl.) I will contact the owl experts I’m working with to see if they can narrow down the size estimate based on my photos and their detailed knowledge of burrowing owl proportions. The insect’s body was very robust. Overall, it did not present the much more delicate, leggy, spider-like appearance of a typical camel cricket. Also FYI, this owl and her mate caught several of these insects over a period of a few days (unfortunately, the other captures were too far away to photograph), and all of the bugs were the same large size and very red like this one.
My best,
Jenny

Thanks Jenny,
We are going to await a response from Piotr or Eric Eaton.  We are going to stand by the Camel Cricket as the closest ID for the moment.  We do not believe this is a Shieldback Katydid, which was our first guess.

Hi Daniel,
To help us with the insect ID, last night my scientific colleagues kindly took a moment to get a couple of measurements of two adult female burrowing owls while they were in the field attaching transmitters to them. (The two owls were measured by two different people in separate locations.) The measurements appear to confirm my estimate that the insect was at least 3 inches long:
·         Straight-line distance from the front edge of the cere to the tip on the upper beak:  first owl was 13.59 mm, and second owl was 13 mm
·         The distance between the center of the pupils in the left and right eyes: first owl was 25 mm, and second owl was 27 mm
I hope this is useful information.
Jenny

Update:  August 18, 2014
Hi Daniel,
To help us with the insect ID, last night my scientific colleagues kindly took a moment to get a couple of measurements of two adult female burrowing owls while they were in the field attaching transmitters to them. (The two owls were measured by two different people in separate locations.) The measurements appear to confirm my estimate that the insect was at least 3 inches long:
·         Straight-line distance from the front edge of the cere to the tip on the upper beak:  first owl was 13.59 mm, and second owl was 13 mm
·         The distance between the center of the pupils in the left and right eyes: first owl was 25 mm, and second owl was 27 mm
I hope this is useful information.
Jenny

Piotr Naskrecki confirms Camel Cricket Identification
Hi Daniel,
Piotr and I have just been corresponding about the ID. He indicated that it is likely a subadult male of Daihinia brevipes, the Great Plains Camel Cricket. However, in light of this insect’s very large size and red color, he said, “There is also always a possibility that this is an undescribed species – North American camel crickets are surprisingly poorly known.”
Cheers,
Jenny

Letter 4 – Camel Cricket

Subject: Large SoCal Cricket
Location: Ventura, California
March 18, 2013 1:48 pm
Hi there,
I saw this cricket on my way into the office at the local waste water plant where I work. I snapped a picture as his body was about an inch and half long and I immediately thought it was a Jerusalem Cricket which my wife is terrified of. I sent her the picture as a good morning jolt 🙂 I took a look at the picture and realized that this guy looks nothing like a Jerusalem other than size but I have no idea what it might be. Any ideas? Sorry for the low res pic as it was taken with my cell phone.
Signature: Jerrod

Possibly Sand Treader Cricket
Possibly Sand-Treader Cricket

Hi Jerrod,
Our initial thought was also Jerusalem Cricket, but like you, our initial impulse quickly turned to doubt.  We did some research and we believe that this is actually a Camel Cricket in the Subfamily Ceuthophilinae, based on photos posted to BugGuide.  It might be the Coast Sand-treader Cricket, 
Rhachocnemis validus, which according to BugGuide is found in:  “Dunes near and along Pacific coast in California. Recorded from near Point Reyes to Santa Barbara.”  This photo on BugGuide looks close, but the low resolution of your photo is obscuring some important anatomical details.  The comments on that posting are interesting.  Is your jobsite close to the dunes?  Do you frequently terrorize your wife with photos?

Possibly Sand-Treader Cricket
Camel Cricket

Eric Eaton provides a lead
Daniel:
I’m not an expert on these. There is a scientist in southern California who is a specialist on Jersusalem Crickets and would probably recognize these as well. I know I’ve given you his name before, but it escapes me….David Weissman

Dave Weissman provides an identification
You have a Ceuthophilus species. There are some along the CA coast and in coastal sand dunes. The group needs revision. And thanks for trying to get me some more JCs and a few in those photos do look interesting. Do you have collection localities for them?
Dave

Letter 5 – Camel Crickets from Brazil

Subject: Strange Bug
Location: São Carlos, São Paulo, Brazil
November 3, 2015 8:20 am
Dear Sir,
I found these insects indoors. They were dead, and had 4 cm each. It’s spring and I’m in the urban area of the city of São Carlos, São Paulo State, Brazil. Thank you!
Signature: Piero

Small Camel Crickets
Camel Crickets

Dear Piero,
Though they are missing their long, jumping legs, these look like small Camel Crickets in the family Rhaphidophoridae, which are generally found in damp, dark places like basements in homes.  Both of your individuals have a stingerlike ovipositor, indicating they are females.  They seem like a much smaller species than most images we receive, but perhaps that is an illusion because of the missing hind legs.

Dear Daniel,
indeed! a couple of hours later I found legs, they were big… Now I’m sure are the same you stated! Thank you very much!
Piero

Letter 6 – Robust Camel Cricket

Subject: Weird bug
Location: Summerset, South Dakota
July 31, 2016 11:25 am
I found this bug in my garage in South Dakota. It is about 6 times bigger than your standard cricket. All I am finding is the camel cricket, but it looks nothing like that.
Signature: Marci

Robust Camel Cricket
Robust Camel Cricket

Dear Marci,
Most images of Camel Crickets we receive are the species that proliferate in damp basements.  Your individual is an outdoor species, the Robust Camel Cricket,
Udeopsylla robusta, which we identified thanks to images on BugGuide.  Though BugGuide does not include any South Dakota sightings, there are North Dakota sightings and sightings from states to your east and south.

Authors

  • 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.

    View all posts
  • 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.

    View all posts
Tags: Camel Crickets

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