A survey of cricket sightings across the United States has found an invasive and, for arachnophobes, unsightly new species proliferating across the East Coast.
The Asian camel cricket, a plump-bodied and spindly-legged species which can grow up to four inches in length and is known to eat just about everything—including its own kind—was present in upwards of 90% of cricket sightings across the U.S., according to the survey results. A single yard in North Carolina, baited with plastic cups with a mixture of molasses and water, turned up 52 specimens over the course of two days.
Researchers were also surprised to identify a second Asian species, Diestrammena japanica, never formally reported in the U.S., turning up in photographs sent in by citizen scientists.
"The good news is that camel crickets don't bite or pose any kind of threat to humans," said study author Mary Jane Epps, a researcher at North Carolina State University. "Because they are scavengers, camel crickets may actually provide an important service in our basements or garages, eating the dead stuff that accumulates there."
The study notes that crickets and humans have shared habitats since at least paleolithic era. One cave painting in France depicts what appears to be a camel cricket, Trogophilus, that was known to dwell in caves alongside human ancestors.