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House Cricket

Summary: If you've landed on this page looking for help in controlling house crickets you've come to the right place, but I am not one to turn to pesticides first. The initial step to good house cricket control is making some changes to the environment to make it less cricket-friendly.

The common house cricket is closely related to grasshoppers and locusts. In fact, most people have trouble telling one from another. The house cricket has two pairs of wings. It only uses the back pair for flying. They sometimes shed their long hind wings as adults. The house cricket ranges in size from ¾ inches to an inch and its color can be described as light, yellowish brown. It has three darker brown bands across its head and between its eyes.

Okay! This is the basic insect biology section where you learn all that good stuff about life cycles. Here goes! Crickets go through gradual metamorphosis. If you were paying attention to your 10th grade biology teacher you would know that means they hatch from eggs and immediately look like tiny adults except their wings and reproductive organs are under-developed. They shed or molt their skins several times, each time growing larger until they reach the size of a small Buick. Well, they seem that large when they jump out at you when you least expect it. Anyway, it takes them about two to three months to complete this cycle in warm temperatures and a bit longer in cooler climates. After all that work they only live for two to three months.

Female house crickets will lay from 50 to 100 eggs during her life. She lays eggs individually, rather than in rafts like mosquitoes. Eggs are deposited in cracks inside and in soft, moist soil outdoors. It takes eggs a couple of weeks to hatch. Egg hatching is not seasonal. You can find nymphs year-round. They don't have any special over-wintering stage they go into like some insects. Instead, in colder months house crickets will find warm places to hide inside buildings. Their country cousins stay warm hanging around dumps or compost piles where fermentation heat keeps them alive.

House crickets use to have it a lot easier. For centuries Chinese and Japanese kept them as pets and they were valued for their singing. Some were released to roam inside which was great for the cricket unless the space was shared with a cat. Nowadays, that same cricket song sends us running for a can of pesticides. Their public relations needs a total resurrection.

So, we know crickets don't do well in the cold. Therefore, as fall temperatures arrive you can count on crickets trying to migrate inside. Like most insects, crickets are looking for environments that fit their needs. Since they feed on organic matter they will gravitate to places of high moisture. They also move towards lights. Illumination translates to heat. That means you need to take those places out of play by doing some of the following:

  • Cut down weeds and tall grass along foundation walls.
  • Keep planted materials about a foot away from foundation walls.
  • Repair cracks in foundation walls.
  • Check ground-level windows and doors for tight seals.
  • Close openings around pipes that come through the foundation wall.
  • Move firewood, lumber, bricks or other clutter away from foundation walls.
  • Reduce outdoor lighting. It looks great at night to you and the crickets.
  • If you must leave lights burning, change bulbs to yellow or sodium vapor.
  • Fix accumulating moisture against foundation walls. Fix leaky faucet air conditioning pipes.

Same routine for inside. Remove all that clutter in your basement and fix the leaks. Those crickets love all that humidity, mold and algae. Plug in a good room dehumidifier and get things dried out to make it uncomfortable for these insects. They hardly ever reproduce inside, but if you make it perfect for them they will be happy to raise a family.

When they're hungry they will attack lots of things like cotton, linen, silk, wool and fur. They really like it when your clothing is dirty from food spills or perspiration. They will also go after all kinds of foods, paper good and even some types of rubber.

Discard all those cardboard boxes you've been saving and those stacks of old Life magazines. If you haven't been able to sell them at a flea market by now you probably never will. Put out lots of glue boards along foundation walls. I keep a box of these on hand and replace them as they get filled up. You can purchase them cheaper if you walk into a local pest control company and buy a whole box.

If all those changes don't resolve your problem you can turn to pesticide dusts, granular pesticides, microencapsulated sprays or wettable powder sprays. Be sure to follow label directions exactly when using pesticides.

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