Camel Crickets – Male and Female

2015 March 7

When I opened the hatch into the basement of the old house on July 12, 2014, there were a number of these camel crickets hopping around on the steps. So, since the last time I photographed one of these was way back in 2008 (and my camera has been considerably upgraded since then), I caught two new ones for photographs, a male and a female.

Telling the sexes apart is ludicrously easy: the female has a rather prominent ovipositor at the end of her abdomen,

and the male does not.

Aside from the ovipositor, the sexes are similar in size, shape and color. Both have very long antennae, typical for creatures that mostly live in the dark and navigate by touch.

From the side, we can see the hump-backed posture that has given them the name “camel cricket”.

They are detrivores, specializing in eating mildew, rotting wood, and similar decomposing things off of surfaces. Their mouthparts are therefore adapted for scraping food off of surfaces.

Their posture brings their mouthparts right down to the surface they are standing on, making gnawing pretty straightforward.

Since they were found in the basement, I had thought that maybe they were Greenhouse Camel Crickets, Diestrammena asynamora. But, while that species is an imported cosmopolitan species that frequently inhabits basements, its coloration is wrong and the legs aren’t spiny enough. Instead, I think that Ceuthophilus maculatus looks like a more likely species. The size, body shape, and coloration all look right. The book “Orthoptera of Michigan” says that there are only three species of camel cricket that have been reported from Houghton County, and C. maculatus is one of them, so odds are pretty good that this is the correct ID.

Anyway, camel crickets are nocturnal insects that live in concealed, damp areas – under or inside of hollow logs, loose bark, under flat stones, in the leaf litter, and in caves when they can find them. And what’s a basement but a cave?

Camel crickets are sometimes pretty startling. While they don’t have wings, they can jump quite a long way (several feet). Their habit of hiding under things means that when you go down into a damp basement and pick up some object, they are likely to explode out from under it. They are harmless, of course (unless you try to eat them, in which case the spines on the legs can get stuck in your throat), and I don’t think they are really all that damaging to whatever is in your basement. I say this because, if it is damp enough for camel crickets, then water damage is going to be much more of an issue than any gnawing the camel crickets can do.

3 Responses
  1. March 9, 2015

    Loved it! All these years I’ve been enjoying crickets and never thought about the geometry of their bodies.

  2. March 11, 2015

    As far as that goes, I hadn’t really thought about their body geometry either until I noticed from the pictures the way the humped back pushed the mouthparts right down to the surface it was standing on.

  3. March 11, 2015

    They’re good luck, you know. It’s best to keep a couple of them around, particularly on a Friday the 13th.


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