Those scary-looking camel crickets with long, spiky legs are invading the homes across the eastern United States, according to a new study. Now population of camel crickets native to Asia outnumbers the domestic variety in the eastern U.S. Greenhouses and residential homes are already aware of the presence of camel crickets in their basements and other crevices.
Mary Jane Epps, a postdoctoral researcher at the North Carolina State University and lead author of the study, said that camel crickets don’t pose any direct threat to humans. You shouldn’t panic if you find the insect in your home. Camel crickets cannibalize each other. They are scavengers, eating the dead stuff, human feces and fallen fruit. In fact, these insects eat anything, providing an important service in your basement and garage.
The Asian camel cricket species Diestrammena asynamora was first seen in the United States in 19th century. People thought it was rarely found outside commercial greenhouses. But researchers found that it has become more common in eastern U.S. than native camel crickets. Findings of the study appeared Tuesday in the journal PeerJ.
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The study on camel crickets was prompted by a chance encounter. A cricket taxonomist found an invasive camel cricket in a colleague’s home. The taxonomist decided to find out how common this species was in the United States. Scientists asked people in their citizen science network to report sightings of camel crickets. People mailed physical specimens or sent in photos to researchers.
Another species of Asian camel crickets also spreading in the U.S.
Over 90% respondents reported sightings of the Asian camel cricket Diestrammena asynamora. What’s more, scientists investigated the yards of ten homes in Raleigh, North Carolina. They found large numbers of Asian camel crickets. However, what surprised scientists was photos sent by people. Researchers noticed presence of another Asian camel cricket Diestrammena japanica, which has never been formally reported in the United States before. But it can now be seen in homes in the Northeast.
The second Asian species was identified based on photos. Researchers are looking to study the physical specimen to confirm whether it’s D. japanica.