Invasive cricket species takes over in eastern U.S. homes

Lauren Nichols/

Invasive cricket species takes over in eastern U.S. homes

The United Nations predicts that by 2050, 90% of Americans will live in urban environments. Many animals share this habitat with humans, but their presence is not always well studied by scientists. One common household insect is the camel cricket, a harmless, spiderlike omnivorous scavenger named for its humpback. To learn the distribution of camel crickets in American homes, researchers conducted a citizen science campaign through online surveys and solicited photographs and specimens. Based on more than 2000 responses from 39 states and the District of Columbia, they found that more camel crickets lived in states east of Colorado than in western states. Among the homes surveyed, 28% of those in eastern states reported camel cricket presence, compared with 7% for those in western states. As many as 700 million camel crickets could be living in eastern U.S. homes alone, the team reports online today in PeerJ, more than the number of people there. They also found that greenhouse camel crickets, an invasive Asian species shown in the above picture, have replaced native species as the most common camel crickets in eastern homes. Biologists previously thought these crickets lived only in greenhouses, hence their nickname.

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