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Black-sided Camel Cricket

Ceuthophilus latens

What do they look like?

Like all camel crickets, black-sided camel crickets have arched backs, long legs, long antennae and no wings. Males have an average body length of 14.5 mm, while females have an average body length of 16 mm. Their antennae are three times as long as their body, ranging from 44 to 52 mm in length. Most black-sided camel crickets are light yellowish-brown or beige, but some are orange-brown. They have a pale line down their back, with a dark brown band on either side. Their legs are beige with rows of dark brown spots. Their hind femora are much longer than their body. Black-sided camel crickets have dark spines on their hind legs. Nymphs of this species have the same markings as adults, but are smaller in size. Their eggs are 2.3 mm in length, oval shaped, semi see-through and soft at first, but later the shell hardens and becomes white. (Lavoie, et al., 2007; Rehn and Hebard, 1916; Scudder, 1894; Turner, 1915; Woodward, 1911)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • female larger
  • Range length
    14.5 to 16 mm
    0.57 to 0.63 in

Where do they live?

Black-sided camel crickets (Ceuthophilus latens) are native to the Nearctic region. They are found in the eastern part of the United States, as far west as Texas or Nebraska. They are common in New England and the Midwestern United States. (Ellis, 1913; Morse, 1919; Rehn and Hebard, 1916; Scudder, 1894; Strohecker, 1937)

What kind of habitat do they need?

Black-sided camel crickets live in areas with mild temperatures. They are usually found under flat rocks and logs, typically near the forest's edge and open areas of deciduous forest. They are also common in dune forests, particularly in older areas farther inland. (Hubbell, 1922; Morse, 1919; Strohecker, 1937; Turner, 1915)

How do they grow?

Black-sided camel crickets are hemimetabolous, which means that they go through an egg, nymph and adult stage. Although there is no information specific to black-sided camel crickets, other members of their family (Rhaphidophoridae) lay their eggs underground. They hatch after several days or weeks and nymphs that look like adults emerge from the ground and develop into adults. (Lavoie, et al., 2007)

How do they reproduce?

Mating takes place at night. Males and females find each other through random movements; they do not seem to notice each other until they come in direct contact. Males and females "fence" with their antennae by hitting them together. Males identify females using their antennae or palps. To begin mating, the male grips the female. If females do not begin mating, males crawl on them and vibrate their antennae. Females either mate or walk away, if they walk out of reach of the male’s antennae they are left alone. Black-sided camel crickets are polygynandrous; both males and females mate with many other crickets. Males do not usually mate with the same female more than once. Males may defend the female they are mating with or fight for mates by springing at others and knocking forelegs. Females are known to eat their mate's head while they are still alive, often when the female is hungry or their mate is weak. (Turner, 1915)

To oviposit, or lay eggs, females bury their abdomen in the ground and lay their eggs in the soil or sand. Females lay 2 to 5 eggs at several different sites and may be able to lay up to 30 eggs, scattered in groups at different locations. Females die several days after their final oviposition. (Lavoie, et al., 2007; Turner, 1915)

  • How often does reproduction occur?
    Black-sided camel crickets can breed repeatedly after reaching sexual maturity.
  • Breeding season
    Breeding occurs in the late summer.
  • Range eggs per season
    2 to 30

Black-sided camel crickets probably leave provisions for their eggs but they do not give any other parental care. Because females die shortly after laying eggs and most males die after mating, the parents are not alive when they hatch. (Turner, 1915)

  • Parental Investment
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female

How long do they live?

The lifespan of black-sided camel crickets is not known, although adults are most common in July and August. Because males usually die shortly after mating, and females die a few days after laying eggs, black-sided camel crickets probably live for about 2 to 3 months during the summer. (Hubbell, 1922; Morse, 1919; Turner, 1915)

  • Typical lifespan
    Status: wild
    2 to 3 months

How do they behave?

Black-sided camel crickets are nocturnal. They are rarely active during the day, but even at night they are inactive compared to other members of their order (Orthoptera). They avoid light by staying under stones and logs and seek cover quickly when they are exposed to light by crawling and jumping. In addition to adult females eating their male mates, black-sided camel crickets also eat their nymphs, even when food is available. Like all members of their family (Rhaphidophoridae), black-sided camel crickets are wingless and cannot fly. They are probably either solitary or live in small groups. (Lavoie, et al., 2007; Scudder, 1894; Turner, 1915; Zungoli and Benson, 1999)

Home Range

Because black-sided camel crickets cannot fly, they probably do not move far from the flat rocks and logs that they live under. (Lavoie, et al., 2007; Scudder, 1894; Turner, 1915)

How do they communicate with each other?

Black-sided camel crickets use their antennae and palps as their main source of communication. While looking for mates, males and females interact only if their antennae or other body parts come into contact. They also use their antennae and palps to find food, through their sense of smell and physical contact. Black-sided camel crickets do not have strong eyesight although their eyes are well developed. They do not rely on their eyes, but they are sensitive to light. Unlike many other members of their order (Orthoptera), black-sided camel crickets have no special organ for producing or receiving sound, so sound probably does not play a role in attracting mates. They are also sensitive to air currents. (Lavoie, et al., 2007; Turner, 1915)

What do they eat?

Little is known about the specific diet of black-sided camel crickets, although camel crickets are generally scavengers of organic material. Camel crickets eat decaying organic matter such as mushrooms, dead insects, fruits and flowers. Females may also cannibalize their male mates and nymphs, even when other food is available. (Lavoie, et al., 2007; Turner, 1915)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • fruit
  • flowers

What eats them and how do they avoid being eaten?

Little is known about the predators specific to black-sided camel crickets, although many birds prey on other species of camel crickets. Birds found in deciduous forests of the eastern United States are likely predators. Rodents, salamanders, arthropods such as spiders and freshwater fish prey on other members of their genus (Ceuthophilus) and probably prey on black-sided camel crickets as well. Like all camel crickets, they can jump several feet to escape predators. (Bakkegard, 2007; Cochran, 2007; Kleintjes and Dahlsten, 1994; Lavoie, et al., 2007; Turner, 1915)

What roles do they have in the ecosystem?

Black-sided camel crickets are likely prey for many animal species, such as birds, rodents, spiders, salamanders and fish. They can also host Gregarina longiducta, a parasitic protozoa. This parasite is transmitted in feces and is found in their intestines. Because camel crickets eat decaying matter they likely play a role in biodegradation, or breaking down organic matter. (Bakkegard, 2007; Cochran, 2007; Ellis, 1913; Kleintjes and Dahlsten, 1994; Lavoie, et al., 2007)

Commensal or parasitic species (or larger taxonomic groups) that use this species as a host
  • parasitic protozoa: Gregarina longiducta

Do they cause problems?

Although it is not known whether black-sided camel crickets are household pests, many other species of camel crickets are household pests. They can damage houseplants and fabrics. (Zungoli and Benson, 1999)

  • Ways that these animals might be a problem for humans
  • household pest

How do they interact with us?

Black-sided camel crickets are not known to provide any positive economic impacts.

Are they endangered?

Black-sided camel crickets have no special conservation status.

Contributors

Angela Miner (author), Animal Diversity Web Staff, Elizabeth Wason (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff, Leila Siciliano Martina (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff.

References

Bakkegard, K. 2007. Interactions between the Red Hills salamander and its potential invertebrate prey. Journal of the Alabama Academy of Science, 78/1: 1-12.

Cochran, P. 2007. Secondary predation on the horsehair worm Gordius robustus (Nematomorpha : Gordiida). Great Lakes Entomologist, 40/1-2: 80-83.

Ellis, M. 1913. Gregarines from some Michigan Orthoptera. Zoologischer Anzeiger, 43: 78-84.

Hubbell, T. 1922. The Dermaptera and Orthoptera of Berrien County, Michigan. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan.

Kleintjes, P., D. Dahlsten. 1994. Foraging Behavior and Nestling Diet of Chestnut-Backed Chickadees in Monterey Pine. The Condor, 96/3: 647-653.

Lavoie, K., K. Helf, T. Poulson. 2007. The Biology and Ecology of North American Cave Crickets. Journal of Cave and Karst Studies, 69/1: 114-134. Accessed June 10, 2013 at http://www.caves.org/pub/journal/PDF/v69/cave-69-01-114.pdf.

Morse, A. 1919. A list of the Orthoptera of New England. Psyche, 26: 21-38.

Rehn, J., M. Hebard. 1916. Studies in the Dermaptera and Orthoptera of the Coastal Plain and Piedmont Region of the Southeastern United States. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, 68/2: 87-316. Accessed June 10, 2013 at http://www.jstor.org/stable/4063692.

Scudder, S. 1894. The North American Ceuthophili. Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 30: 17-113. Accessed June 10, 2013 at http://www.jstor.org/stable/20020583.

Strohecker, H. 1937. An ecological study of some Orthoptera of the Chicago area. Ecological Society of America, 18/2: 231-250.

Turner, C. 1915. Breeding habits of Ceuthophilus latens, the camel cricket. Bulletin of the Wisconsin Natural History Society, 13: 32-41.

Woodward, A. 1911. The Orthoptera collected at Douglas Lake, Michigan, in 1910. Michigan Academy of Science, 13: 146-167.

Zungoli, P., E. Benson. 1999. "Camel Crickets" (On-line). Clemson University. Accessed May 29, 2013 at http://www.clemson.edu/cafls/departments/esps/factsheets/household_structural/camel_crickets_hs21.html.

 
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Miner, A. 2013. "Ceuthophilus latens" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed October 25, 2014 at http://www.biokids.umich.edu/accounts/Ceuthophilus_latens/

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
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