It’s difficult to tell insects apart since they’re so small, and there usually isn’t much difference between species.
If you point to a cricket and say it’s a camel cricket, someone else might say it’s a spider cricket, and another person may say it’s a cave cricket.
It can get confusing and makes it difficult to know what to look up online.
What’s the difference between spider crickets, camel crickets, and cave crickets? These three names are interchangeable and are used to refer to crickets in the Rhaphidophoridae family, which contains several similar subfamilies and species. The names may also refer to the species Tachycines asynamorus, commonly called greenhouse crickets.
Having several names for a family of several species doesn’t make identification any easier.
In the following, we’ll take a closer look at this big family of insects to clear up any confusion and provide you with tips for ridding your property of these bugs should they become a nuisance.
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The Cricket Family With Many Names
The scientific classification of species, or taxonomic rank, matters for the discussion of crickets because, in biology, the word “family” means something.
It’s the sixth category in the taxonomic rank – the final one before a cricket gets its scientific name.
The cricket family Rhaphidophoridae contains several species of crickets, each of which belongs to different genera.
This family is pretty extensive, yet humans refer to them all with just a few names because it’s difficult to tell them apart.
Common names for Rhaphidophoridae include:
- Camel crickets.
- Camelback crickets.
- Cave crickets.
- Cave weta (a term used in New Zealand).
- Sand treaders.
- Spider crickets.
- Land shrimp.
Most of these crickets in this family look similar, but there are differences between species.
It ultimately doesn’t matter if you’re just conversing with a neighbor about your shared cricket problem.
Still, you may have the issue where you’re both talking about “cave crickets” but are actually talking about two different species.
Or, you saw a spider cricket, and your neighbor saw a camel cricket, and you’re talking about the exact same species but don’t realize it.
The Greenhouse Camel Cricket
To add a bit more confusion to the name game, many people refer to the species Tachycines asynamorus specifically as a cave cricket.
Many people know this species as a greenhouse camel cricket because they’re often found in greenhouses.
It’s still part of the Rhaphidophoridae family, but there might be some confusion when identifying species.
Spider Cricket Characteristics
So, what makes the spider/camel/cave crickets different than all the others? For starters, it’s their long legs, which earn them the name of spider crickets.
Their legs are all bent with sharp angles because they’re so long, so they look a lot like a spider’s legs.
Perhaps it’s their light brown color that makes people think of spiders. The long legs and color make it look similar to the “daddy longlegs” spider that curls up its legs when it dies.
Unlike spiders, however, camel crickets do not bite, though other cricket species will. Find out which crickets to watch out for here.
Another characteristic of this cricket that makes it stand out is its long antennae. They sit close together on the head.
Other cricket families have antennae that are further apart, so that’s a defining feature.
The Rhaphidophoridae family can’t fly, so you’ll see them jump long distances because of their legs, but you won’t see them flying over your head.
They’re also nocturnal, so they’ll be hiding away during the day and active at night, which is why you should be especially careful about leaving doors and windows open at night.
Spider Cricket Locations
Spider crickets are often called cave crickets because of the places they like to live.
They’ve actually been found in caves and mines but also like other dark and humid places.
They prefer forest areas because they’re well covered and damp, so they’re frequently found in logs, piles of leaves, and under stones.
In the suburbs, they like to stay in sewers, basements, attics, and stacks of firewood if the conditions are just right.
If you rake leaves or leave grass clippings in a pile, they’ll be sure to inhabit those too.
(These are ideal spots to set out DIY traps, which you can learn to make here.)
Decorative garden or path stones and furniture are also viable places for spider crickets, especially if they aren’t moved around often.
The previously mentioned greenhouse camel cricket prefers to live in greenhouses. You can expect other species of spider crickets to live in them too.
Plants are crickets’ favorite food and they’re quite fond of munching on roots, seeds, and seedlings too, so don’t assume that their presence around your prized plants is innocent.
The spider cricket family originated in Asia but is now found in North America and Europe.
How to Get Rid of Spider Crickets
If you don’t like to have these spider-like cave dwellers hopping around your property, there are a few simple ways you can get rid of them.
The following will outline the basics, but be sure to read our article “How To Get Rid of Crickets” for a more detailed guide.
Remove Their Housing
The first step is to get rid of where they’re living.
Rake up leaves and other debris, trim low shrubs so the branches don’t drag the ground, and relocate unused furniture.
If you have furniture or equipment, like a trampoline, that is frequently used but never moved, try rearranging your yard.
You can’t remove your basement and attic, but you can remove humidity.
Use a dehumidifier indoors (like this one with an auto-off feature) and remove other pests that live in the area.
Also, because they’ll eat fabric and paper if they can’t find insects to eat, try to keep all of your belongings in airtight containers (these are perfect as they snap securely shut).
Deter Them With Oils
Crickets hate the smell of essential oils. Specifically, they don’t like cloves, peppermint, or rosemary.
If you have these oils on hand, add some water to a spray bottle and add about 10 drops of oil. Mix it up and spray the areas you find them with the oil.
Many pests hate the scent of peppermint, so including it in your spray will take care of a lot of other insects too.
You can also purchase a natural spray, like EcoSMART Home Pest Control, which relies on a lot of the same oils crickets hate.
Kill Them Naturally
Natural methods are the safest option because they’re environmentally friendly and pose little to no risk to humans and pets.
If you have young ones or pets roaming around or you’re treating an area of the home you’re around all the time, you should try natural remedies.
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Borax is an exception in the “little to no risk” rule. It’s completely natural, but it’s a poison, so it’s toxic if ingested and can irritate the skin.
Mix pure borax with cornmeal, beer, or molasses to attract crickets. They’ll die either on the spot or nearby after they ingest it.
Diatomaceous earth is the enemy of all critters with exoskeletons.
It can’t hurt humans, but it can cut open the exoskeleton, stick to the insect, and then dry them out, which eventually leads to death.
It sounds terrible, but it looks like a harmless powder and is a great natural control method for a wide variety of bugs.
You can purchase it in garden supply centers or through Amazon.
Be very cautious with diatomaceous earth as it can harm beneficial insects like ladybugs and bees.
Only apply it on the ground and never apply it on flowers or plant leaves.
Add some molasses to an inch or two of water to attract crickets and drown them.
You’ll have to empty out this trap regularly, or crickets will catch on that it’s dangerous and will stop coming to it.
If you make this trap, it’s best to place it away from your home since the crickets have to come to it.
Crickets will want in, but when they see their dead brethren, they’ll change their mind and go somewhere else.
If you’ve brought them near your home, that’s probably their next destination.
In “Best Cricket Repellents,” you’ll find clear prevention guidelines to keep them away and discover the best products to use to repel crickets both indoors and out.
Don’t be fooled by the several names for spider crickets. Cave crickets, camel crickets, sand treaders, sprickets – they’re all in the same taxonomical family.
The bottom line is that if the cricket is brown (usually light brown), has super long legs, long antennae that are close together, and active at night, it’s probably in the spider cricket family.