Camel Crickets….

I was working at  the receptionist job at the doctor’s office one day.  I was just sitting in my chair working away.  The desk faces the patients as they sit in the waiting room and there is a window that opens and closes between the desk and the waiting room.  So… I am working away and all of a sudden something from behind jumps over my shoulder and lands down under the desk.  I saw this out of the corner of my eye so I was not sure as to what I did actually see. Scared to death, I just as suddenly slid/scooted backward with my chair (it is, of course, on wheels).  What in the world would be behind me and jump/fly over my shoulder and why? I have to say that I have never seen anything like that before where something went flying over my shoulder from behind! The patients must have seen this as well, or at least my reaction, because when I looked up they were all laughing.  I think the window may have already been open and we started talking, me excitedly talking, nerves and a bit of fear will do that to you.  I asked if they saw what happened and we were discussing the events and the situation. They were mostly laughing about my reaction, but then again, I may not have shut up long enough for them to say anything.  Their laughter was a good thing, because it helped me to laugh as well and calm me a bit.  I assume they felt safe since they were out there and not in the area I was in.  I am quite positive, judging from the fact that it jumped over my shoulder, that it could have made it to them in just one jump!

The doctor was in with a patient, so he was of no help. I finally got the nerve to get down on the floor to see what was back there.  It was just a bug, so I got something to smash it with.  To my surprise and fear, that thing jumped like crazy.  So did I, believe me!!  The patients were laughing and wondering what it was.  I scooted way back away from the desk.  I told them I do not know what it was, but I was just going to sit right there until the doctor came out and he could get it.  I told them that it looked like a giant spider but he had his legs lifted up and it was like he had his elbows in the air and I demonstrated this.  I leaned over and placed my palms flat.  Then I bent and lifted my elbows until they were sticking up way above my back and my head.  That is exactly what they looked like!!! We were all laughing, but I was still a bit scared. I resumed my place in the middle of the room on my chair.

The doctor came out from seeing a patient and just brought the chart back to me and started telling me what to do for the patient.  I asked him if he would like to know what I was doing sitting in the middle of the room.    The patients in the waiting room were laughing.  I described this insect with the funny legs with their elbows in the air and again demonstrated it. He just sort of looked at me like I was crazy.  He got down on his hands and knees and crawled under the desk with a clipboard to kill it.  That thing jumped at him and he jumped out and was just as scared as I was.  He nearly hit his head on the bottom of the desk.  This made me laugh! He asked me what it was and I told him I did not know.  He was hesitant, but after a bit, he got back under there and killed it.  The patients and I were having a great time laughing.  I would not scoot clear under the desk with my chair after that.  I figured  that the creature  surely had some friends with him.

My daughter called me shortly thereafter  and I told her about it.  She instantly said oh, it’s a camel cricket.  She seemed to know this instantly and was very calm about it. I questioned her and said I had never heard of such a thing.  She said she had some at work herself and to be sure to not make eye contact with them or they will jump right at you.  This was crazy to me. I was telling her how afraid I was of it and how it jumped and was disgusting.  She just calmly said that they were and that she hated them too.  I know it was the grossest thing I had seen.  (Well, wait, there is the praying mantis.) I told her he came from behind and jumped clear over my shoulder.  She just said, “Yep, that’s what they do.  They can really jump, do not look at them.”  I cannot believe that she had experienced these and I had not known about her encountering them.  It was so scary, I cannot believe she did not call me and carry on all shook up like I was. After we hung up, I googled the thing.  Here it is:

camel-cricket-image

She was exactly right! I told the patients about our call and what it was.  I showed them the picture and showed the doctor.  See how their “elbows” are all stuck up in the air.  Yuck!  They have these huge “thighs” on their back legs.  I assume those are their “jumper legs.” I cannot remember if the patients or the doctor had seen these before or not.  I know that they really enjoyed watching the whole thing and that we had some laughs over the situation.  I am now called their buggy friend and we tease each other about this.  I will never forget that day and I did make some new friends.

Some days later, my husband came running in from his woodworking shed that is behind our garage. He told me I had to come outside there were hundreds of huge spiders in the garage and they were going nuts and jumping.  I am certain there were not hundreds of them, but this was his fear speaking! He said he had never seen spiders jump like that.  I exclaimed, “Oh no! They are camel crickets, go out there and spray them with something!”  He said they are not crickets they are spiders and he lifted his arms to describe how they were sitting.  He was acting just like I was that day at the office.  He was as scared as I was.  I told him about my story at work and how our daughter knew just what they were and told him to get out there and kill them now!  (I felt like Barney here on Andy Griffith when he told Goober to get down there with those spiders! haha.) I am sure that he did not believe me.  He was standing there going on and on and would not stop talking about them.  I had to practically force him to go back out there as he seemed more scared then I was. He was almost terrified, haha!! He wanted me to go see them.  Knowing what I know, I adamantly refused!  I practically had to shove him out that door.  He came back in shortly and said to me well, that killed them all.  I showed him the photo and he said that is just what they were!  He was as amazed as I was about them and how we had never seen them let alone heard of them.  How odd that all three of us encountered them for the first time around the same time.

I do not know how they suddenly appeared here in our town and we had never ever seen them before in our life.  I even grew up a country girl and thought I had seen everything. I would like to never see them again! I think they are the ugliest things I have ever seen.   They get the award. (Well, there are the eyes of the praying mantis!)

Just like the bats, we have now learned a lot about these camel crickets.  They are mostly nocturnal which is why they were in the garage that night so vividly hopping around.  The article also said they do not chirp so their jumping is the only mechanism they have to scare off predators.  Can you imagine what my husband must have seen out there?? One was enough for me.  He probably was envisioning something like a movie, “The Attack of the Killer Camel Crickets!”  I would have loved to have seen his face.  That will teach him for making fun of me when I get scared!   We learned that they like damp areas.  We live at the bottom of a slope/hill, and have had lots of rain.  I am sure that the woodworking shed is damp.  On top of that, key word…woodworking shed.  They love wood piles, mulch, leaves and garbage cans.  Not to mention the piles of wood in the shed, outside of the shed is our fire pit with a case full of wood for the pit.  Beside the garage is a stack of logs, along with the garbage cans.  Guess what I will be getting rid of as soon as the weather warms up?!!!  Yes, camel crickets is what I am hoping to get rid of, but I meant, the wood, leaves and garbage can area will be cleaned up a little better and moved!

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