Crickets generally live outdoors, but they will migrate indoors in search of food, water, and shelter. It can be quite alarming to find crickets in your home. They tend to congregate in late summer and can infest basements and crawl spaces by the dozens. Certain species can also do a great deal of damage to your lawn and garden. Luckily, cricket control is available. The following will help you learn to identify the most common species of crickets and the basics of cricket pest control.
Crickets are insects that are related to grasshoppers, earwigs, and even roaches. Although there are over 900 species of crickets around the world, they all share many common features. Crickets generally have a cylindrical body, a round head, long antennae, and 2 cerci or spikes at the end of their abdomen. Crickets have powerful back legs that are suited for jumping, and many species of crickets can fly. Crickets are nocturnal and are perhaps best known for the loud, high-pitched chirping sounds the males make while trying to attract a mate. While this is true of many species, some crickets do not make sound. The average lifespan of a cricket is around 90 days.
There are four main types of crickets that typically cause problems for humans, whether in homes or around the yard. They are house crickets, camel crickets, field crickets, and mole crickets.
House crickets are ¾ to one inch long and are normally a light yellow or brown color. They have three dark bands on the head that set them apart from other species. House crickets make the distinctive chirping sounds that we commonly associate with crickets. When they enter homes, they are in search of a warm, moist environment to live. They can often be found in kitchens, basements, and crawl spaces. House crickets can cause damage to household items because they will eat almost anything. This includes things like: paper, books, linens, fruits, and clothing.
By Geyersberg, Professor emeritus Hans Schneider [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons
Field crickets are found all over the world. They are a little longer than house crickets and can be dark brown, gray, or black in color. Field crickets rarely enter homes, as they prefer to live outdoors, but during extreme temperatures they may find their way inside. When they are around humans, it is usually in flower beds, lawns, and tall grasses or vegetation. They are also attracted to lights and can often be found outside entryways wear outdoor lights are present.
Mole crickets (gryllus spp.) are not seen as often as other species because they live underground. Mole cricket nymphs can do significant damage to lawns during the summer. Mole crickets are much more rounded in shape with large, shovel-like front legs. These legs are used for rapid digging, and make them look like moles. Mole crickets can grow to be up to 1.25 inches long. They are brown, yellowish, or reddish-brown. Like most crickets, they are nocturnal, can fly, and are attracted to light. Unlike most crickets, mole crickets can burrow up to 30 inches deep in search of roots, insects, and worms to eat. Mole crickets are common throughout the eastern United States and are particularly difficult pests for golf courses. Controlling adult mole crickets is challenging, so timing treatments to kill the nymphs is important.
Signs of mole cricket damage in yards may include:
- Surface ridges from tunnels
- Exit holes of 1” or more in lawns
- Dead or damaged patches of lawn
- Damaged vegetable crops
- Sandy soil with Bermudagrass and bahiagrass is most often affected
Camel Crickets (AKA Cave Crickets)
Camel crickets (ceuthophilus spp.) may also be known as cave crickets or hump-back crickets. They are usually light brown with darker brown mottling and range from .5 – 1.5 inches long. They have an arched back that gives the name “camel,” thick bodies, and very long legs and antennae. Sometimes people mistake these crickets for spiders, which lead to the nickname “sprickets.”
One common species in this family is an invasive species of camel cricket from Asia that has become very common in greenhouses in North America. Diestrammena asynamora has started to push out native crickets, which can be a problem for the ecosystem.
Camel crickets like very dark, damp conditions like caves, old mines, under stones, or under porches or dwellings. When they enter homes, they will usually live and breed in crawl spaces, basements, or other damp, cool places. Camel crickets do not have wings and do not chirp. Camel crickets are mainly nuisances because they will eat anything in your house, which can cause significant damage when they are present in large numbers. They will eat both synthetic and natural fibers like rugs, clothing, books, drapes, boxes, paper, etc. If left unchecked, they will also start to attract mice and rats which prey on them.
By Thegreenj [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], from Wikimedia Commons
Crickets may be annoying, but unless they are found in large numbers, they usually do not do significant damage. Prevention efforts are a good place to start.
- Eliminate outdoor harborages (heavy vegetation, tall grasses)
- Store firewood away from the house and off the ground
- Clean up leaf litter and other debris
- Seal the exterior of your home, including all cracks, gaps, and holes
- Use yellow bug lights or sodium vapor lights in outdoor lighting to attract less insects
- Eliminate excess moisture by fixing leaky pipes or faucets
- Make sure that damp areas of the home are properly ventilated or use a dehumidifier if necessary
If you do get an infestation of crickets, there are several things you can do to take care of the problem and prevent future ones. Quickly get rid of crickets inside and outside your home by using some of these great products.
Although traps will not be enough to control large infestations, they are great monitoring tools that can help you identify a potential cricket problem at the early stages. Glue traps can also catch the occasional cricket that does get inside. Place these sticky traps near entryways, along baseboards, under furniture, or in other areas where you have seen cricket activity. Harris Cricket Traps will attract crickets and other crawling insects, and they are safe and pesticide-free.
A granular insecticide is recommended for treatment of crickets in your yard, especially mole crickets that live underground and damage lawns. The granules are impregnated with insecticide and are meant to be spread over the whole area that is experiencing an insect problem. Once watered into the lawn, the insecticide will penetrate into the soil and kill the crickets or insects that you are targeting. Always follow directions when applying insecticide.
There are many different types of cricket baits. They are best used in hidden areas where crickets have been found and it is difficult to use insecticide sprays. Some places where baits might be beneficial are basements, crawl spaces, and closets.
Using a good residual pesticide around the perimeter of the home is one of the best methods of pest control for crickets and many other insects. Follow all label directions when using pesticide. Most residuals typically should be sprayed at least 3 feet up the wall and 3 feet out from the foundation for best results. Residuals will last for several months. Harris Home Pest Control can be used both indoors and outdoors and will kill a variety of household pests.
Insecticidal dusts are useful in areas that are difficult to reach. Using a hand duster, you can squeeze dust behind baseboards, electrical outlets, in drop ceilings, and in wall voids. The other benefit of insecticidal dust is that it lasts up to 6 months.
If you need help controlling crickets, you can count on Harris for the best products and information. DIY cricket control is not only possible, but Harris products will make it a breeze. PF Harris is America’s oldest EPA registered brand and has been in the industry since 1922. You can trust Harris for all of your pest control needs.