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House & Home

Big but beneficial: Specific cricket widespread in Raleigh homes

Posted September 9, 2014 11:14 a.m. EDT
Updated September 9, 2014 7:09 p.m. EDT

— There are crickets. And then there are camel crickets. Some people call them spider crickets. No matter the name, they are bigger and, to some, creepier than your standard-issue cricket.

And bug experts at North Carolina State University are finding that they are very common in North Carolina.

"We've learned that this non-native species from Asia, called the greenhouse camel cricket, is very, very common in basements and garages in the eastern U.S.," said Dr. Holly Menninger, an N.C. State entomologist.

As for the creep-out factor, Menninger says camel crickets can be aggressive, and that they can trigger a startling reaction for the unprepared.

"They have a tendency, instead of being afraid of you, to jump at you," she said.

Menninger first encountered camel crickets as a graduate student in Maryland.

"Our basement was what some might call infested with camel crickets," she said. "Every time I'd have to go down and do my laundry, I'd have to tip-toe to make sure I didn't squish any."

When she got to NC State, she decided to study camel crickets, working on a census of sorts.

She and fellow researchers asked the public to report whether they had the insects in their homes. The results: 90 percent of respondents reported a specific kind of camel cricket.

"It's really the data from citizen scientists that has enabled us to make these discoveries about the camel crickets," she said.

Menninger pointed out that camel crickets might be creepy, but they don't bite or cause any problems for humans.

They even do some housework, she said.

"They may be the clean-up crew," she said. "They're probably eating dead fungus, other dead insects that may be in your house, which may be a good thing."