C. Thomas , 1872
Brunner von Wattenwyl , 1888
|Subfamilies and genera|
The orthopteran family Rhaphidophoridae includes the cave wetas, cave crickets, camel crickets and sand treaders,and Jumpers of the suborder Ensifera, most are found in association with 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 Africa has but one species and that is confined to the southern Cape region. Those occurring in New Zealand, Australia, and Tasmania are typically referred to as wetas. 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.
Cave crickets have very large hind legs with "drumstick-shaped" femora and long, slender antennae. 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. On young crickets the body may appear translucent. As the name implies, cave crickets are commonly found in caves. However, most species live in other cool, damp situations such as in wells, 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. Some reach into alpine areas and live close to permanent ice — the Mount Cook "flea" and its relatives in New Zealand.
The group known as "sand treaders" are restricted to sand dunes, however, and are adapted to live in this environment; they are active only at night, and spend the day burrowed into the sand, to minimize water loss. They are pale, sand-colored insects, and their legs are modified with strong bristles for rapid digging.. In the large sand-dunes of California and Utah they serve as food for scorpions.
Their distinctive limbs and antennae serve a double purpose. Typically living in a lightless environment, or active at night, they rely heavily on their sense of touch, which is limited by reach. While they have been known to take up residence in the basements of buildings, many cave crickets live out their entire lives deep inside actual caves. In those habitats they sometimes face long spans of time with insufficient access to nutrients. To avoid starvation, they have been known to devour their own extremities, even though they cannot regenerate limbs. Given their limited vision, cave crickets will often jump towards any perceived threat in an attempt to frighten it away. Their large hind legs allow them to jump high and far.
Cave and camel crickets (also known as spider crickets) are of little economic importance except as a nuisance in buildings and homes, especially basements. They are usually "accidental invaders" that wander in by mistake from adjacent areas. They generally do not reproduce indoors, except in situations that provide continuous dark, moist conditions, such as a basement shower or laundry area, as well as organic debris to serve as food.
Although they appear intimidating, they are harmless to humans. They may cause minor damage to stored items, but are easily discouraged by eliminating the dark damp habitat they prefer.You can also get rid of them by using glue traps. One will jump on it and then more will come.
Their long legs have caused them to be more commonly referred to as "sprickets" or "spickets", a blending of "spiders" (whose legs they resemble) and "crickets". In some parts of the United States they are also referred to as "jackal spider crabs" or "hoppities".
An as-yet-unnamed genus was discovered within a cave in Grand Canyon Parashant National Monument, on the Utah-Arizona border, in 2005. Its most distinctive characteristic is that it has functional grasping cerci on its posterior.
Mirordo: incertae sedis
Subfamiliae: Aemodogryllinae - Ceuthophilinae - Dolichopodainae - Hadenoecinae - Macropathinae - †Protroglophilinae - Rhaphidophorinae - Troglophilinae - Tropidischiinae
Rhaphidophoridae Brunner von Wattenwyl, 1888
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