My War Against Cave Crickets

Whenever I get into a conversation about “things that we hate” with someone, I automatically think of those horrible, disgusting, demonic, gross things called Rhaphidophoridae; or more commonly known as ‘cave crickets.’ ‘camel crickets,’ and ‘cave weta’ for our New Zealand readers. Chances are you don’t know what the hell one is if I call it by their official and unofficial names, but if I say “those dark brown spider things that have two huge back legs, that hang out in basements and jump” then you might just have an idea of what I’m talking about.

Cave Crickets are crickets that absolutely feast on damp, dark places such as caves, crevasses, under rocks, and of course basements. Now, I know what you’re saying “what the hell? You’re afraid of a cricket?! What a wuss!” Well, yes I am. To me, most spiders are fine (unless it’s like the size of a plate,) those green grasshoppers are all right, cicadas are cool, but cave crickets…NO.

I have a few distinct cricket related memories etched into my brain from when I was little such as when we found a cricket trapped in a glass; when my father found a cricket in the upstairs bathroom (the only time we had ever seen one upstairs luckily) and when a cricket jumped on my damn leg! The crickets always lived in the sump-pump closet and routinely came out and played around the den-like section of our basement if the towel jammed under the door somehow got removed. If you open the door during the spring or summer, you would usually see about 4 latched onto the wall and God knows how many else hidden around the nooks and inside the sump pump hole.

Cave Cricket

Recent photo of a cricket in my basement. Click and enjoy…

A classic discovery usually happens after I’ve been down in the den for awhile, I’ll get up to get something and I’ll notice a brown thing clinging to the wall. I immediately stop moving and begin planning on a way to kill it. I need to kill it, because they usually roam around and I just can’t go about my business knowing that a large cricket could be about to scale up my leg. I mean, I could live with a large spider in my basement because chances are it won’t move off of its web. Anyways, after I kill it, or if I kill it, I won’t come downstairs again; I’m already too creeped out with the fact that there could be another one somewhere, so any further plans in the basement are done.

Killing a cave cricket is hard as hell; they have incredible fly-like reflexes and are fast. The fact that I don’t want to go near it kind of dampers any efficient way of disposing it as well. The worst thing that could happen while trying to kill a cricket is startling it. If you startle it, they will jump around like crazy. Let me repeat that…

If you startle it, they will jump around like crazy. 

The last thing you want is a cave cricket skipping around like a fuckin’ bouncy ball.

Cave Crickets are really quite pitiful despite their size and appearance. They don’t bite, they don’t sting, they don’t attack in any way. Their only means of defense is size. In last ditch efforts, a cave cricket will sometimes leap at you before retreating; buying itself a few seconds for its getaway. It works! When I was younger, a cricket jumped onto my bare leg once. In another, more recent, encounter, I opened an outside door only to have a cricket leap out like some friggin’ jack in the box. It slammed against my bicycle’s tire twice before scrambling to lord knows where.

The Attack Plan

My usual plan of attack is basically getting a phone book or any other large, heavy object and attempting to launch it onto the cricket, thus crushing it. It rarely ever works of course. The table below lists the percentage of the result happening:

Result Percentage of it Happening
I miss cricket; cricket does nothing 20%
I miss cricket; cricket starts jumping 35%
I hit cricket and cricket lives; cricket starts jumping 40%
I hit and kill cricket 5%

Obviously the odds just aren’t with me if I use the “phone book method.” So I adopted method #2: The cup attached to end of golf club method. Here I tape a large, clear plastic cup onto the head of a golf club, I then attempt to catch the cricket, slip something under the cup, and throw it outside. It’s much more humane, but it forces me to come uncomfortably close to the cricket. Here is percentage table #2:

Result Percentage of it Happening
Cup falls off club before I get it to cricket 10%
I tap cricket with cup while lowering it; cricket starts jumping. 30%
Catch cricket, cricket escapes; cricket starts jumping 30%
I actually catch the cricket and remove it from house 2%
I rip cup off of golf club and club cricket to death 28%

Now obviously the simplest method of killing a cricket would probably be stepping on it. I could probably do it more efficiently that way since I normally miss with a blunt object. But I just can’t listen to the disgusting crunch it would likely make and it would probably get stuck to my shoe; god knows I want to touch the damn thing, dead or alive. It would probably start jumping before I even put my foot down on it anyway.

The Centipede

A centipede hanging out in the downstairs sink...

A centipede hanging out in the downstairs sink…

A far tougher enemy (I can’t believe I just called it that) came one day while I was in the basement. I was just minding my business and I suddenly see this thing dash across the floor. “What the…?!” I see it again and notice that it’s a 4-5 inch centipede. “Holy…!” I had to find a way to kill it. There was no way in hell I was going to stay down there knowing that a bug that can actually sting me is roaming around. The problem was that this thing was fast…fast as hell. I threw something at it and it hi-tailed behind the sofa. I then moved the sofa, saw it, and crushed it with the butt of a baseball bat. As long as that damn towel stays jammed under the closet door in the bathroom they’ll be thwarted…somewhat…

Back to Observations


  • Chris says:

    I was thoroughly haunted by a friend who killed himself while we were in a band together and the haunting some associated with a new infestation of these things. Another musician close to him who recorded this guy just before he killed himself had his basement studio infested by them suddenly as well. I wrote a novel based on this. These things do get in your mind!

  • DoD3Brian says:

    Sorry to hear about your friend. It sure seems like cave crickets were solely placed on this Earth to drive people crazy. Luckily I haven’t seen any for about two years now…although I have seen several centipedes in the meantime which aren’t much freakin’ better.

  • Ashley says:

    I have them in my basement, there’s one in my bathroom. I got in the shower looked up and it was just chillen in the top conner. I used axe and a lighter to kill it(:

  • Beth says:

    Thank you for writing about these crickets. I came across one tonight and thought it was a spider from the amazon that was going to eat me alive while I slept! Thank goodness it’s NOT a spider. This thing jumped 4 feet in the air and every which way. It was in the kitchen, so I grabbed the first thing I could find – RESOLVE CARPET CLEANER Spray. I sprayed it with that and Pledge and soaked it until it couldn’t move and then I smashed it with a newspaper. Sorry for anyone who thinks “oh, poor little cricket” , but you guys are all right on when saying that these things are the enemy. Holy cow… At least doing some research on line, I found out it’s not a spider and can now finally go to sleep at 1:30AM. Thank you…

    • Dave says:

      Seriously, this has to be the most amusing article EVER!
      EVER I tell you!

      I share your aversion to this ugly insect and I don’t know if you planned it so but this article left me rolling on the floor laughing whenever I wasn’t shaking my head in agreement to what you were saying. especially the part witht he percentages of success… Seriously I almost burst my lungs laughing xD

      Well written

    • jj says:

      yes it’s 1:20 we have spent several hours trying to kill one without getting close to it. it jumped into the bathroom and we lost it so we moved our things to a different room of the house and then while moving saw babies. there’s a nest in there. no one is safe.

  • Jen says:

    Your article is funny. These bugs are not. They creep me the F out. I live in a very old house and the basement is damp and not very well insulated. Here is my method of dealing with them. They hate light, so I leave the lights on in the basement ALL THE TIME. There are five lightbulbs with no fixture thing over it, so I buy the 100w bulbs. I have to replace them constantly, but it’s worth it. As you know trying to step on them doesn’t work because if they see you coming, then they jump at you. My friend said to get a wet paper towel and drop it on them before you mash them, but I refuse to get close enough to do that. I was out of insect killer so I used Clorox Bleach spray and that seemed to do the trick, although they were still moving. I looked in my sump pump hole just now and there were about 10 in there. I poured bleach in the damn hole and then filled it with a ton of water and that killed em. Another thing, which is going to be easier than your cup and golf ball method, is a swiffer. I have one of the giant swiffer sweepers, just the ones you attach the swiffer rag to and push around, it’s not electric or anything. It’s very wide and the handle is really long, so I can sneak up and kill the cricket with it. I’m too scared to go down there and check to see if the bleached ones are dead yet, they tend to disappear once they die…

    • Alessandra says:

      You know why they “tendo to disappear once they die? It’s because other cave crickets eat them! Thenat why it;s important to remove the dead ones. You are otherwise just leaving food for the ones that are alive. I agree with the Clorox method. It works. Also Lysol or other harsh household sprays do the trick. It’s easy to aim at them, you don’t have to get too close and it kills them as long as you spray them for a while. Usually after the first or second spray they lsoe their ability to jump but they will still walk. Eventually the chemical in the cleaning product kills them.

  • Nick says:

    I recently had to move back to my family home, into the basement. These little bastards have been my sworn enemy since I was a kid. I’ve done battle with them for years. I’ve tried everything…but lately I find the best, most accurate and effective method is my trusty old 5 iron. You can whack them good and fast. The action of the club slicing through the air and coming down on them is swift enough that they don’t see it coming…and they’re toast. Meantime, I’m planning to bug bomb a storage area where I’ve discovered they’re congregating, and then spray the perimeters of the basement, outside and inside. That ought to teach those little f’ers.

  • kay says:

    i have lived in the same house for 18 years ad i just not started seeing them like last year i am terrified of small crickets and nearly shat myself when i next to my wife and I’s bed to see this thing. my wife thought hey let throw things at it BAD MOVE THEM THINGS CAN JUMP LIKE NO OTHER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i thought that thing was gonna eat me not for real but the ppl who have seen them kno what i mean. my wife and i were talking when i see this thing jump on the wall.. now im not a girly girl but she wont let me live this down i screamed like a girl… when i saw it i screamed and ran out of the room and her sister mom and dad (who we are staying with till i finish skwel) started laughting so she caught it aand she walked over to her dad, him being all big and bad… yea seeing that thing HA! he fell out of his chair and ran to his room.

  • CaveCricket helper says:

    The best way to get these guys is to place those sticky mice traps around the areas they hang in. They are attracted to them and get stuck on there and die and then you just throw away the trap. The traps will be COVERED in them. Works like a charm.

  • Midwesterner Moved East - Now Plagued by Aliens says:

    Hilarious article. The statistical overview on your defensive tactics and success rates is completely amusing. Light-hearted fun at a very fearsome opponent. I am from the Midwest and have never seen or heard of anything like these creatures that I have found have taken up residency in my recently acquired old Victorian home near the Delaware River in Bucks County, PA after my recent relocation. Three have found their way onto the first floor in the past two days, and it is now war. They messed with the wrong Midwest Farmer’s Daughter! 🙂 If pesticides and traps don’t finish them off, I figure I can offer them some arsenic laced cheese curds 😀 . Thank you for lightening the mood and making me not feel like the biggest wuss on the planet for being absolutely terrified by these gruesome alien invaders. Keep up the good work and you are not alone in this war. We shall conquer & they shall perish. 🙂 lol

  • Cathy says:

    You know, I was always the one who gently would catch the normal crickets and let them go free outdoors, and THIS is the thanks I get? A lifelong battle with the most horrifying, terrifying and disgusting creatures known to mankind? I have never and I mean NEVER seen anything move so damn fast! I just want to share my most recent event of disgust. Okay, I am sitting here tonight watching one of my favorite shows and the room is dark other than the light of the TV. Out of the corner of my eye, I see movement and I already know what it is. Yeah, you guessed it! A large Cave Cricket is climbing up my shirt! Slowly, I turn the desk light on and Thank God I have a cricket Killin terrier! I make my eww, get em boy, and it is lights out for that thing from Hell! Good luck to my unlucky friends!

  • Dede says:

    I found one on my dresser and went to kill it and it jumped. No idea where. I had bug spray so I sprayed it. Will the bug spray help kill it I am freaked out.

  • Dede says:

    In case anyone is wondering bug spray doesn’t work.

  • Amanda says:

    I use a broom!!!!

  • Kate says:

    I use a three-pronged approach. First, I got a cat. I put sticky traps by the door inside the storage room. Next, I cut a piece of screen and covered the sump pump hole so they can’t come up from there. Lastly, I let my cat go down into the basement at night. She loves to kill anything that escapes the first two methods.

  • Christinr says:


  • Sarah A says:

    I recently moved into an old house that was rehabbed and vacant for a long time. After having a lot of scary encounters with these guys, I knew it was war!!! My 3 cats love them but never seem to kill them. So, I have found that Peppermint oil mixed with Vinegar in a spray bottle helps a lot. I spray the perimeter of the inside and outside along with the inside of the vents. Since my first spray, I have only seen 1 as oppose to the 4 to 8 I was seeing daily. So, I re-sprayed last night. If you try this method, it is non-toxic to dogs but can be deadly if cats ingest it. GOOD LUCK!

  • Sarah A says:

    OHHHH and when I have to pick up and dispose of a partially dead one, I spray it directly with my peppermint oil and vinegar and then use toilet paper with needle nose pliers to pick it up and then dump in the toilet…..

  • Pat H says:

    I use a battery operated fly killer that looks like a tennis racket. It fries them and you can actually smell them burning. They freak me out I have lived in my house over 50 years and this is the first year I have seen them. I will try Sarah’s recipe and see how that works too. UGH ALIEN CRICKETS

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