Saturday, December 3, 2011

Camel crickets and friends

A few weeks later after my winter terrarium was set up I found two cave crickets on separate days. One is a male and the other a female. I am hoping they will mate and I can watch their young. Cave crickets along with camel crickets are in the family Rhaphidophoridae. I found my two in the garage which is a typical location. They also live in animal burrows, caves, under stones and in wood. They like damp dark places. Each evening when I come home I love to hunt for mine and usually find them hiding under the leaves. I believe they are Ceuthophilus maculates and their common name is Spotted Camel Cricket.

They have large drumstick shaped hind legs and long slender antennae. Since they mostly live in dark places like caves they use their long antennae to find their way and to sense food. If I leave the lights low I can seen them moving their antennae about like fingers in search of something. But the moment the lights come on they are frozen in a stance that children playing that old game of statue would envy. This is great because it allows me to get a good photo.

Often I catch them in the act of feeding on the mushroom. I read that the those living in caves have periods when food is scarce and they are capable of devouring their own extremities, even though they cannot regenerate limbs. I’m not going to test that theory so I have been buying regular store mushrooms and they seem just fine.

Last night I took one of the meals worms for the wild birds and cut it in half and place it in on the moss. Almost immediately one of the crickets was feeding. The other half was gone this morning. I decided to try that after reviewing a book I had read many years ago by Sue Hubbell called Broadsides from the Other Orders: A Book of Bugs. She had said that she fed hers dead bugs so I thought I would give it a try and add variety to their diet. Her book was also the inspiration to grab the cave crickets in the first place. After reading it I always wanted to raise them. She also raised Daddy Longlegs (Harvestmen) but it is too cold outside to find any now.

Since they have limited vision, cave cricket will often jump toward any perceived threat in an attempt to frighten it away. Most people seem to be frightened just by the sight of one but they are completely harmless. But you do have to ignore the creepy factor. In all honesty I haven’t touched one yet. I bumped the side of the tank with the camera and this one immediately hunkered down and stared in my direction. It knew something was out there and it was ready to pounce.

They don’t have wings but with legs like that who needs wings.

The other critters I find on the mushrooms are the two millipedes. Here is a photo of one eating along with the cave cricket. That must have be an especially good spot on the mushroom. Check back later to see more about the millipedes.

Check out the other Camera Critters here.


eileeninmd said...

What a neat critters and great photos. I have never heard of this Camel Cricket. Thanks for sharing your critter. Have a great day!

Cindy said...

I am loving your winter terrarium! I just might put one together for myself!

chubskulit said...

Such a great find of critters, nice shots too.

Fun shots with the Cardinal at the park. Have a lovely weekend!

Denise said...

Fascinating post. We have the Camel Crickets in our garage too. I had never seen anything like them before until we moved into our house and it took me a long, long time to identify them. Your pictures of them are great.

Pat said...

What fascinating insects!
Nice shots!

Woodswalker said...

Who needs TV, with such drama going on in your terrarium? I've never seen Camel Crickets before; do they live as far north as the Adirondacks?