Called by many names like camel crickets, sprickets, cave weta, or just plain “AAAACK!,” these crawling, hopping insects are found all over the world. They scare us with their creepy moves and high jumps. Spider crickets lunge at threats to frighten them (apparently a very effective strategy against grown men), but other than giving an occasional scare, the spider cricket is harmless. Thankfully, they are also silent. No chirping to get you up at 3 a.m.
Spider crickets thrive in compost heaps, potting soil and mulch. You may surprise one or two while you are pulling weeds from the garden. If they get in the house, expect to find them in a cellar or under the stairs as these nocturnal insects like dark places. Spaces under doors, cracks in the foundation or sometimes open windows offer entry into the house.
Unfortunately, they have very strong and active jaws that love to eat carpets and fabric, amongst other things like fungus (their preferred food) and wood. You don’t want them snacking on the finished basement, so take a few precautions to help keep them out:
*Re-caulk lower level windows and door frames. Fill in foundation gaps. Spaces under doors, cracks in the foundation or sometimes open windows offer entry into the house.
*Run fans and dehumidifiers. The key is to keep the environment dry in the summer, especially in the high-humidity days of August.
*Fight fungus. Spider crickets would exclusively dine on fungus if they had their way. Every basement has some fungus, but waterproofing the walls and floors helps keep it in check.
*Thoroughly clean any area you’ve seen the insects congregate. Like ants, spider crickets can leave traces of their travels, which then direct their brethren to their hiding spot. Clearing up that pheromone trail helps prevent new bugs from finding their way in.
Getting rid of the jumpy little critters once they are in can be tricky. Sticky traps used to capture mice, spiders and ants are also effective in snagging spider crickets, but you need to set the traps in the right places. Place them in walls where possible, and along the baseboards and by outer doors. Place a sticky trap in any room or space that stays darker than the rest.
Some homeowners set out containers of soapy water (add the soap so mosquitoes don’t breed) to drown the bugs, although this method increases the moisture levels in the basement.
If you see five or more of the bugs, you may have a breeding problem. Try the sticky traps and check after one week. If the spider crickets are still terrorizing the toddlers and husbands in the house, it may be time to call an exterminator.