One of the occasional insect pests encountered in home basements is the cave or camel cricket. The cave crickets and the well-known field crickets are from different families but look vaguely similar. Cave crickets have very large hind legs with "drumstick-shaped" femurs and long, slender antennae. They are brownish in color and rather humpbacked in appearance. They are wingless and up to one inch long.
As the name implies, cave crickets are found in caves. However, they live in other cool, damp situations such as in wells, rotten logs, stumps and hollow trees, and under damp leaves, stones, boards, and logs.
Cave crickets are of little economic importance except as a nuisance in buildings and homes, especially basements. They are usually "accidental invaders" that wander in by mistake from adjacent areas. They generally do not reproduce indoors, except in situations that provide continuous dark, moist conditions.
Control efforts for camel crickets should include (as much as is practical) eliminating breeding and hiding sites outdoors around the house or building. Piles of bricks, stones, boards, leaves, etc., should be removed. Also, cracks and gaps in foundation or siding or around windows and doors should be sealed. Spraying a residual barrier of diazinon, Dursban or Sevin insecticide around the outside of the house may be of benefit if you apply sufficient spray to reach breeding sites. Spraying household "ant and cockroach" insecticide onto indoor floor areas where camel crickets hide or are seen is a last resort of limited benefit. Occasional, individual crickets can be picked or swept up and discarded.
This article originally appeared in the April 15, 1992 issue, p. 58.