Just when you thought there wasn’t anything new to give you the heebie-jeebies, along comes the spider cricket. While they’re not exactly hybrid of spiders and crickets, they’re similar enough to put your arachnophobia on high alert.
What Are Spider Crickets?
These critters go by lots of names, but “spider cricket” is one of the most common because they resemble spiders. Their officical name is Rhaphidophoridae. They’re also known as “criders,” “sprikets,” “cave weta,” “cave crickets,” “camelback crickets,” or “camel crickets.” And because they look so much like spiders, they’re definitely scary to anyone who’s not a fan.
Worse, they often congregate in large groups, which can make for a terrifying sight if you happen to enter a place where a few are roaming around. But these bugs, even if they are creepy and crawly, are for the most part harmless. However, you don’t want them in your home because of the damage they can do.
What Do Spider Crickets Look Like?
Spider crickets are most commonly mistaken for wolf spiders because they are similar in size and coloration. But when you get a closer look at one, you’ll see long antennae, and you’ll notice that they’ve only got six legs, with the two hind legs much longer than the other four—just like any cricket.
Adults are wingless, and their bodies have almost a humpbacked shape. Many say they even resemble shrimp. And they can get pretty big, too—up to two inches in length!
Don’t look too closely, though! Spider crickets have a habit of jumping directly at things that startle them, which means one might leap at you if you scare it. This is a defense mechanism for the spider cricket. It’s not that they’re attacking so much as attempting to frighten potential predators.
Do Spider Crickets Bite?
There are conflicting reports on this. Most bug experts say “no” because spider crickets don’t have fangs or the ability (or desire) to bite humans. They use their mouthparts called mandibles to “gnaw” on their food. But they can gnaw on you if one happens to land on you.
No Chirp, Just Pop
Interestingly, unlike other types of crickets, spider crickets don’t make the characteristic chirping sound and don’t use sound to attract a mate (they do that by emitting a smell if you were wondering). They don’t have the sound-producing organs that other crickets have—though some sources say that when there are a lot of them hopping around in a basement or outbuilding, it can sound a little like popping popcorn (our apologies to popcorn fans!).
Where Do Spider Crickets Live?
These bugs can be found all over the United States. In the wild, they’re typically found in caves and forested areas where there are plenty of places to hide beneath leaves, rocks, and rotten logs in the summer and fall. Like stinkbugs, spider crickets are “accidental invaders” into our houses, loving dark and damp places like basements, crawlspaces, garages, and sheds. They’re known to gather in large numbers, too, so if you see one, there are probably more.
How to Keep Spider Crickets Out of Your Home
Inside your house is a spider cricket’s favorite habitat because they feed on lots of things found around most homes. Fungus and plant matter makes up a large portion of their diet, but they’ll chew fabric, rugs and carpet, wood, cardboard, and sometimes even fellow spider crickets. So you definitely don’t want them hanging around.
In severe cases, an exterminator might be your best option to get rid of spider crickets. But for the most part, these simple steps will keep them and other dark, damp-loving pests away.
- Caulk. Make sure your home’s foundation is properly sealed and caulked to minimize points of entry.
- Minimize clutter. In those dark and damp areas, you’ll want to minimize any clutter that they use for cover and consider keeping those areas well-lit to keep them away.
- Dehumidifying is one of the most important things you can do. It might take time, but eliminating the moisture they love should cause them to go elsewhere.
- Get rid of hiding places. You can reduce populations by getting rid of places for them to hide. Woodpiles, mulch, stones, tall grass—all of these spots offer them shelter, so minimizing such things will help keep them away.
Are They Toxic?
If you happen to see a spider cricket, don’t freak out! Even if they are creepy looking, they’re harmless—and a vital part of the ecosystem, too. If they’re in your home, dry up moisture, and they should go back outside where they belong. And while they’re not toxic to pets (dogs and cats seem to enjoy crunching on them), their exoskeleton can be irritating and cause gastrointestinal upset.