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FRIDAY, Sept. 5, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Asian greenhouse camel crickets are now common in homes across the eastern United States, but this invasive species is not a danger to people, a new study reveals.
"The good news is that camel crickets don't bite or pose any kind of threat to humans," lead author Mary Jane Epps, a postdoctoral researcher at North Carolina State University, said in a university news release.
She and her colleagues asked the public for photos of camel crickets they found in their homes and received an unexpectedly large response. The creatures have long, spiky legs and a tendency to eat anything.
More than 90 percent of the camel crickets reported by respondents were greenhouse camel crickets, according to the study published online Sept. 2 in the journal PeerJ. These are native to Asia and were first sighted in the United States in the 19th century.
This species was believed to be rare outside of commercial greenhouses. But the researchers said their findings show it is now far more common than native camel crickets in and near homes east of the Mississippi.
The researchers also checked the yards of 10 homes in Raleigh, N.C., and found large numbers of greenhouse camel crickets. Their numbers were highest in areas of the yards closest to the homes.
"We don't know what kind of impact this species has on local ecosystems though it's possible that the greenhouse camel cricket could be driving out native camel cricket species in homes," Epps said.
If you do find greenhouse camel crickets in your home, don't panic.
"Because they are scavengers, camel crickets may actually provide an important service in our basements or garages, eating the dead stuff that accumulates there," explained study co-author Holly Menninger, director of public science in the Your Wild Life lab at North Carolina State.
"We know remarkably little about these camel crickets, such as their biology or how they interact with other species. We're interested in continuing to study them, and there's a lot to learn," she added in the news release.
-- Robert Preidt
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SOURCE: North Carolina State University, news release, Sept. 2, 2014