Harmless cave cricket

Sunday, August 28, 2011

This interesting-looking insect is a wingless cricket native to Southeast Missouri. It is a cave cricket, but it is also known by names such as camel cricket, camel-back cricket and spider cricket. Although it may look intimidating with its long antennae and big hind legs, it is harmless.

Cave crickets live in dark damp places such as cavities in old trees, in rock piles, under logs, in mouse tunnels and inside caves.

They sometimes are unwanted guests inside basements of people's homes. They have poor eyesight. Yet they are hard to catch by hand because their antennae are very sensitive to touch and their powerful hind legs can propel them instantly to a random new place.

The body of an adult cave cricket may reach 2 inches in length. Its antennae can be two and a half times as long as its body and can be directed around and back over its body to detect danger. Cave crickets nibble on tiny organic rubbish.

Salamanders, spiders, snakes, frogs, turtles, birds and fish will all eat cave crickets. Bluegill will strike a hook baited with a cave cricket just as quickly as they will a hook threaded with a common black cricket bought at a bait store.

@body_no_indent italics:Through the Woods is a weekly nature photo column by Aaron Horrell. Find this column at semissourian.com to order a reprint of the photo. Find more work by him at the Painted Wren Gallery.

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