Crickets, Cave Cricket, Camel Cricket
The orthopteran family Rhaphidophoridae includes the cave weta, cave crickets, camelback crickets, camel crickets, spider crickets (sometimes shortened to “criders”, or “sprickets”) and sand treaders, of the suborder Ensifera; in some regions, such as Missouri and Virginia, these crickets are referred to as “cricket spiders.” In southern Virginia they are sometimes called “Seaford Jumping Spiders.” Those occurring in New Zealand, Australia, and Tasmania are typically referred to as jumping or cave weta. Most are found in forest environments or within caves, animal burrows, cellars, under stones, in wood or in similar environments. They are characterized in part by their long antennae and legs. They may be found on all continents and many continental islands, though surprisingly Africa has but one species and that is confined to the southern Cape region, and apparently they are absent from Madagascar and New Caledonia. The well-known field crickets are from a different superfamily (Grylloidea) and only look vaguely similar, while members of the family Tettigoniidae may look superficially similar in body form.
Most cave crickets have very large hind legs with “drumstick-shaped” femora and equally long, thin tibiae, and long, slender antennae. The antennae arise closely and next to each other on the head. They are brownish in color and rather humpbacked in appearance, always wingless, and up to two inches/5 cm long in body and 10 cm (4 inches) for the legs. The bodies of baby crickets may appear translucent. As the name implies, cave crickets are commonly seen in caves or old mines. However, most species live in other cool, damp environments, such as rotten logs, stumps and hollow trees, and under damp leaves, stones, boards, and logs. Occasionally, they prove to be a nuisance in the basements of homes in suburban areas, drains, sewers, wells and firewood stacks. One has become a tramp species from Asia and is now found in hothouses in Europe and North America. Some reach into alpine areas and live close to permanent ice — the Mount Cook “flea” and its relatives in New Zealand.