The spider cricket is a common American pest. This insect gets its name from its spindly, spider-like legs, but it’s not a true spider. This pest typically lives in caves and forests, but it can invade dark and damp indoor spaces. Inside, it may munch on cardboard, fabric, and other items. Here’s what you need to know about spider cricket traits, why they may be attracted to your home, and how to get rid of them.
What Are Spider Crickets?
Spider crickets have many nicknames, including camel crickets, cave crickets, criders, sprikets, and cave weta. These broad terms encompass around 150 species of North American insects belonging to the family Rhaphidophoridae. These species share many common traits that make them easy to identify.
What do spider crickets look like? Spider crickets are wingless insects with humped backs and long antennae. They have six legs, including four smaller front legs and two enormous hind legs. They can grow to be up to 1 inch long.
Spider crickets come in several colors depending on their species. Most of these insects are dark brown, reddish brown, or tan. Some may look black if you encounter them in dark spaces like crawl spaces or caves.
Many people fear spider crickets because they often gather in groups and have a creepy, spider-like appearance.
What do spider crickets eat? Wild spider crickets eat insects, organic materials, and small arthropods.
Spider crickets that enter homes can eat many materials, such as cardboard, carpet, houseplants, fabric, paper, and rugs. They may even eat other spider crickets.
Are spider crickets dangerous? You may feel alarmed if you find spider crickets in your home. These insects can seem especially frightening because, when startled, they often leap directly at humans as a defense mechanism. But don’t worry. Spider crickets pose no real danger to humans or pets.
What is the spider cricket life cycle? Spider cricket life cycles vary slightly among species. One study found that Troglophilus neglectus mates between July and September, while T. cavicola mates between February and April.
Spider crickets also perform a range of behaviors to attract mates. T. neglectus produces vibration signals and protrudes its abdominal scent glands during pre-mating rituals. Other species emit odors to appeal to potential mates.
Female spider crickets generally lay their eggs in the soil. Nymphs hatch after several weeks and mature over the winter. Adults and nymphs have similar appearances, but adults are larger.
Spider crickets usually don’t reproduce indoors, unless they find an indoor area that is consistently dark and damp.
Types of Spider Crickets
North America is home to over 100 species of spider crickets. Here are a few varieties you may encounter, depending on your location:
Asian camel cricket (Diestrammena asynamora). Also known as the greenhouse camel cricket, this species originally comes from Asia. Today, this species commonly infests American homes east of the Mississippi.
Black-sided camel cricket (Ceuthophilus latens). This species lives in New England, the Midwest, Nebraska, and Texas. They often live under logs and rocks in deciduous and dune forests. They have beige, brownish-yellow, or orange-brown bodies and dark spots on their legs.
Cave cricket (Ceuthophilus secretus). You can find this spider cricket in central Texas caves. They forage on the surface at night and rest in caves during the daytime. They provide an essential source of energy for terrestrial cave invertebrates.
Common cave cricket (Hadenoecus subterraneus). This spider cricket typically lives near the entrances of caves like Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave system. Their antennae can sense air flow and surfaces, allowing them to navigate through dark caves easily. They can also survive above ground.
Signs You Have Spider Crickets
You may see spider crickets in cool, moist areas around your home. They can infest basements, garages, laundry rooms, sheds, and other damp areas. These insects travel in groups, so if you see one spider cricket, you may have a larger infestation lurking out of sight.
Dark fecal smears are another obvious sign of a spider cricket infestation. You might also notice damaged household items, like garments gnawed on by hungry spider crickets.
Why Do You Get Spider Crickets?
Several conditions can attract spider crickets to your home. Spider crickets may enter buildings during long periods of hot, dry weather or heavy rainfall.
You may get spider crickets if your home has dark, moist areas where they can breed and hide. Boards, bricks, leaves, and rocks piled near your house can harbor these pests. They can also enter houses by squeezing into small openings around doors, foundations, and siding.
Health Risks of Spider Crickets
Spider crickets can be a nuisance if they eat your possessions, but they pose little to no risk to human and pet health.
Do spider crickets bite? Most experts believe that spider crickets don’t bite or sting humans. However, some sources claim that these pests may use their mandibles to bite if they land on you. Keep your distance from spider crickets to prevent these insects from jumping on you and potentially biting.
Are spider crickets poisonous? These insects are nontoxic, but dogs and cats may get upset stomachs if they eat spider crickets. It’s a good idea to keep pets away from infested areas until you eliminate the pests.
How to Get Rid of Spider Crickets
You can use many products and preventative strategies to eliminate existing spider cricket infestations and keep them from coming back. Here are a few effective methods:
Clean up your yard. Landscaping, firewood, and piles of lumber make appealing hiding spots for spider crickets. You can discourage the insects from coming into your home by moving firewood and clutter away from your house.
Run a dehumidifier. Damp areas like bathrooms and basements can become breeding grounds for spider crickets. Drying out problem areas encourages pests to move to a new location.
Seal up entrances. Use caulk, seals, and weather gaps to seal any openings that may allow insects to enter your home. Pay special attention to openings around crawlspace doors, dryer venters, and window frames, which often have inviting gaps.
Call an exterminator. Hiring a pest control professional can be a great option if the sight of spider crickets makes your heart race or if other strategies fail to solve the problem.
These easy approaches can eliminate or prevent spider cricket infestations, so you won’t have to worry about stumbling across these creepy pests inside your home.