Cricket Control: Protect Your Home
Scientific Classification: Gryllid
Related to grasshoppers and katydids, crickets are medium-sized insects with chewing mouthparts and large, strong back legs. Known for the distinctive chirping sounds they make by rubbing their front wings together, over 100 species of crickets call the United States home. The most common is the field cricket, though other species, including house crickets and the invasive camel cricket, can also be found in and around American households.
What Do They Look Like?
Size: Crickets grow to lengths of about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch.
Color: Typically black or dark brown, crickets have also been known to appear yellow in color. The house cricket is distinguishable by the three dark bands on the head.
Characteristics: Both field and house crickets possess wings and are capable of flight. Using their strong hind legs to propel themselves, the insects are attracted to light. Equipped with antennae as long as their body or longer, crickets are perhaps best known for their song. Males chirp by rubbing their wings together, with most activity taking place at night.
Found throughout the United States, crickets are present both outdoors and indoors, as the pests may accidentally wander into homes and other structures to search for new food sources and warmth.
What Do They Eat?
Crickets are omnivorous insects that feed on a variety of different foods. In addition to fruits, nectar, and seeds, the insects eat decaying organic materials and available plant matter, such as fungi and seedling plants. Crickets have also been known to consume dead or weakened insects, including other crickets.
The song-like chirping of male crickets attracts females for mating. Afterwards, the mated females deposit their eggs in moist soil using a digging structure known as the ovipositor. Eggs are laid in groups of 50, with each female capable of laying up to 400 eggs in her lifetime.
After nearly a month, the eggs hatch into nymphs that look like adults without wings. Nymphs pass through a simple metamorphosis and reach adulthood in 12 weeks. Nevertheless, the average lifespan of a cricket lasts between one week and three months.
- Listen for chirping male crickets.
- Look for the nocturnal insects in the evening rather than the daytime.
- Attracted to light, crickets are often drawn out into the open by indoor or outdoor lighting.
Problems Caused by Crickets
Not usually considered to be serious household pests, both the field cricket and the house cricket may nonetheless feed on synthetic and natural materials regularly found around the home. The insects feed on fabrics such as cotton, linen, silk, and wool, causing damage that can be distinctly severe, especially in cases of large infestations. Crickets tend to favor materials soiled by food or perspiration. On rare occasions, the pests may feed on crops and stored food, as well.
Signs of Infestation
Crickets can frequently be found near garbage receptacles and prefer darkness and areas of high moisture, which makes basements, crawlspaces, and even bathrooms attractive to the insects. The sound of males “singing” to attract a mate regularly signals the presence of the pests inside the home. Outdoors, crickets are often attracted to electrical lights, which may lead to accidental entry into homes and other structures.
As crickets are attracted to moist areas, fix all leaking pipes, direct runoff away from the home, and set up dehumidifiers in rooms that tend to accumulate excessive moisture such as crawlspaces and basements. Seal off all cracks in building foundations, and caulk areas around window sills and door jams to help prevent accidental entry. Additionally, repair all torn window and door screens.
Tips for Removal from Home
The short lifespan of crickets works in favor of homeowners, as the insects may not live long once they get inside the house. Nevertheless, sticky traps and other store-bought baits may work to draw crickets out and help control smaller infestations. For larger incursions, contacting a trained pest professional may prove necessary.
Cricket Activity in Spring
“Following a long winter, we definitely see increases in cave crickets throughout homes in our coverage area. They’re a damp-dwelling insect and are hard to miss due to their creepy looks and long legs. Because of their proclivity for moist, darker areas, you’re most likely to find them scattered around crawlspaces and the basement.”
Despite how big they are, cave crickets can find tiny spaces to squeeze through. We recommends keeping areas dry and free of moisture and reducing humidity with a dehumidifier. Allowing air to flow can help keep moisture, as well as pests, out.
Keep Crickets Out!
Crickets are one of the most common late summer and fall pests. Their nighttime singing is considered pleasant by some and obnoxious by others. However, when these elusive bugs find their way into our homes, the cricket’s lullaby charm fades when you find them crawling through your pantry, basement, garage or shower.
Prevention Tips: Here are some more quick tips to prevent Crickets from entering your home:
- Keep dark areas of the basement clean and clutter-free.
- Remove damp firewood, leaves, excess vegetation and deadfall from perimeter.
- Caulk cracks, gaps and holes where crickets may enter.
- Move wood, stone and brick piles away from the house.
- Make sure basement windows are well-fitted to help keep these and other insects outside.
- Reduce vegetation and shrubbery from around building foundations.
- Eliminate attractant light sources.
The yellowish-brown house cricket got its name because it was a common pest in homes. Older homes were built with many voids and hidden areas that allowed the cricket to survive and reproduce indoors in great numbers.
The house cricket, Acheta domesticus (L.), is about ¾” to 1″ long. There are three dark bands across the head. The antennae are very slender and they are longer than the body. Adults have wings that fold flat on top of the body.
House crickets are good fliers. They are attracted to lights and they often gather on buildings and around streetlights. They frequently move into homes in search of water. They also move into homes in the fall when the weather starts to turn cool.
They find dark places to hide. However, the males make the chirping sound to attract female crickets. This sound is the telltale signal that the crickets have invaded.
House crickets are active at night. Outdoors they eat plants and insects. When they are indoors, house crickets are notorious for the damage they cause to fabrics. They damage carpets, drapes, and even upholstery.
House crickets are particularly attracted to clothing that has been soiled with perspiration. They make large holes in garments. This is different from the small holes that clothes moth larvae usually make when they feed.
People who are fighting house crickets often find that reducing the brightness of the porch lights helps. It also sometimes helps to change the porch lights to the yellow “bug light” bulbs.
It can also help to trim weeds, grass, and ground cover away from the foundation. Stack woodpiles on racks and move them away from the house. Rake mulch and dead leaves away from the foundation to make a 24″ clear zone.
Make sure exterior doors close tightly. Secure the access to the crawl space and repair any damaged screens on crawl space vents.
Insect baits can be very effective for controlling house crickets. Check the bait label directions. Some labels allow applications indoors if the bait is placed in small trays. The bait trays can be placed under appliances and behind large pieces of furniture where crickets would hide.
Many brands of bait are water-resistant. Apply the bait outdoors in the clear zone between the foundation and the mulch. The bait can also be applied in ground cover and flowerbeds where crickets will be hiding.
Liquid insecticide can be used as a barrier on the foundation and around doors and windows. Because of sun and rain, the barrier will have to be re-applied periodically. Many homeowners call on a pest control professional to make these applications and control house crickets.