Camel Crickets and Cave Crickets, Family Rhaphidophoridae

Habits and Traits of Camel and Cave Crickets

Camel cricket

Thegreennj/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

People often encounter camel crickets (also called cave crickets) in their basements and worry about damage to their homes or possessions. Although mostly considered a nuisance pest, large numbers of camel crickets in the home may damage fabrics or indoor plants. Camel and cave crickets belong to the family Rhaphidophoridae. They are sometimes called spider crickets or sand-treader crickets.


Camel and cave crickets are not true crickets. They are, however, close relatives of true crickets, katydids, and even the odd-looking Jerusalem crickets. Camel crickets are usually tan to brown in color and have a distinctive humpbacked appearance. They have extremely long filiform antennae and rather long legs as well, so if you only get a passing look at one, you might think you saw a spider. 

Camel crickets don't fly and lack wings, so there's no easy way to differentiate adults from immature ones. Without wings, they can't chirp like true crickets. They don't have auditory organs, either, since they don't communicate by singing like most of their Orthopteran cousins. Some camel crickets may produce sounds using stridulatory pegs.

Rhaphidophorid crickets are nocturnal and are not attracted to lights. Cave crickets usually live in caves, as you probably guessed, and most camel crickets prefer dark, moist habitats, like the inside of hollow trees or fallen logs. In dry conditions, they sometimes find their way into human dwellings, where they seek out basements, bathrooms, and other higher-humidity locations.

A recent study found the greenhouse camel cricket (Diestrammena asynamora), a species native to Asia, is now the most common camel cricket found in homes in the eastern U.S. The invasive species may be displacing native camel crickets, but more research is needed to understand the impact of the exotic camel crickets on the ecosystem.


Kingdom – Animalia

Phylum – Arthropoda

Class – Insecta

Order – Orthoptera

Suborder - Ensifera

Family - Rhaphidophoridae


In natural environments, camel crickets scavenge organic matter derived from both plants and animals (they're omnivorous). Some may even prey on other small insects. When they invade human structures, camel crickets may chew on paper goods and fabrics.

Life Cycle

We know surprisingly little about the life cycle and natural history of camel crickets. Like all insects in the order Orthoptera, camel and cave crickets undergo simple metamorphosis with just three life stages: egg, nymph, and adult. The mated female deposits her eggs in the soil, typically in the spring. Adults overwinter, as do the immature nymphs.

Special Behaviors and Defenses

Camel crickets have powerful hind legs, which enable them to jump several feet to quickly flee predators. This tends to startle the unsuspecting homeowner trying to get a closer look.

Range and Distribution

About 250 species of camel and cave crickets inhabit dark, moist environments throughout the world. Just over 100 of these species inhabit the U.S. and Canada, including several exotic species that are now established in North America.


  • Asian Camel Crickets Now Common in U.S. Homes.” NC State University website.
  • "Camel Crickets," Clemson University website.
  • "Camel Crickets (Cave Crickets)," Missouri Department of Conservation website.
  • Capinera, John L., editor. Encyclopedia of Entomology. 2nd ed., Springer, 2008.
  • Charles A., et al. Borror and DeLong's Introduction to the Study of Insects. 7th ed., Thompson Brooks/Cole, 2005.
  • "Crickets," University of Minnesota Extension website.
  • Family Rhaphidophoridae - Camel Crickets.” Species Bombus Auricomus - Black-and-Gold Bumble Bee - BugGuide.Net.
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Hadley, Debbie. "Camel Crickets and Cave Crickets, Family Rhaphidophoridae." ThoughtCo, Sep. 9, 2021, Hadley, Debbie. (2021, September 9). Camel Crickets and Cave Crickets, Family Rhaphidophoridae. Retrieved from Hadley, Debbie. "Camel Crickets and Cave Crickets, Family Rhaphidophoridae." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 30, 2023).