How to rid a basement of invasive species of crickets

"They are omnivores and eat a wide variety of things. Mostly dead plant and animal material," says entomologist Mike Raupp. (Courtesy Lauren Nichols, YourWildlife.org)

WASHINGTON — An invasive species called the Asian camel cricket is showing up in basements across the area. While many homeowners have tried to get rid of them a variety of ways, there’s one method that works best.

University of Maryland entomologist Mike Raupp says putting out a bowl of soapy water or traps surrounding a bit of cat food won’t work.

“They’re just going to come to the cat food and feed which will attract more crickets. What are you doing there,” Raupp asks.

Listeners who have gone to battle with these crickets wrote WTOP to offer their tips to get rid of the pest.

Ken from Arlington wrote in saying he caught eight crickets by simply laying down masking tape sticky side up.

That, Raupp says, is a strategy he can get behind.

“These camel crickets love to run along walls. So the best thing to do is purchase some sticky cards, put them in the corner where the two walls come together and the camel crickets will simply get stuck in these things,” he says.

Check entry ways into your home and basement to ensure there won’t be more moving in,” he says.

“One way to keep them out in the first place is to simply replace your door sweep. Make sure your caulking in entryways to the outdoors are sealed off,” Raupp says.

Researchers at North Carolina State University this week warned of the species of crickets invading homes on the East Coast.

But the arrival of Asian camel crickets is not new in the D.C. area, Raupp says.

“We don’t know how long it has been in our area,” he said. “Ninety percent of the camel crickets found in basements in Maryland and D.C. [are] actually Asian camel crickets.”

The crickets are omnivores and eat a wide variety of things, but mostly dead plant and animal material. The crickets have spiky legs and tend to cannibalize each other, too.

Observers can tell an Asian camel cricket by its tan color and striped, tall hind legs, he says.

“They are very humpback in appearance [and] have long antennae,” Raupp says.

The Asian camel cricket was first detected in Minnesota in 1898, Raupp adds. But as far as the impact the species is having in the area, Raupp says it’s hard to tell.

“It appears they’ve lived with us indoors for an awfully long time,” he says. “So it seems they’re not causing major disruptions in our basements and around our homes in this point in time.”

Although the creepy crawlies look scary, researchers say they aren’t harmful to humans. In fact, as cannibals and scavengers, they eat other dead stuff in homes.

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