Identification and Life Cycle
Crickets commonly found in homes are the House Cricket (Acheta domestica), Field Cricket (Gryllus pennsylvanicus), and Spotted Camel Cricket (Ceuthophilus maculatus).
The House Cricket is approximately 3/4 – inch long, and has a light yellowish-brown color with three dark bands behind the head and long, pointed wings. Besides being a household nuisance, these crickets are typically bred and sold in bait and pet stores.
The Field Cricket, is about 1/2 to 1–inch long, and dark brown to black in color with black antennae. They have rounded wings that almost cover their whole body.
The Camel Cricket, is 3/8 to 3/4 –inch long, and has larger hind legs than other crickets. It is tan to dark brown in color, wingless, has a long antennae, and a humped back appearance. These crickets do not chirp due to its lack of wings.
Crickets are related to grasshoppers and katydids. You can identify them from their long antennae, and their large back legs. The adult females have a sword-like ovipositor or egg-laying device extending backwards from the tip of the abdomen.
In the spring, on average the female will lay 50 to 100 eggs as deep as 1-inch below the ground. Because of the warmth of the soil, nymphs (the young) can develop in two weeks, breaking through the egg and digging upward to the surface. The nymph stage can last from 8-12 weeks, but they are more likely to survive for only one week. The nymphs are easy prey for birds and other insects. Crickets normally die outby autumn or early winter.
Habits and Damage
Crickets are usually active at night. Only the adult males, with the exception of the Camel cricket, “chirp” nonstop by rubbing their wings together usually to attract females.
Although, they usually lay their eggs outdoors in the ground, they frequently become an indoor pest by entering buildings and homes through open doors or around cracks in windows. They are more likely to be seen indoors during a rainy, warm season or cool weather in the fall seeking shelter when environmental conditions are unfavorable or food becomes scarce.
House crickets live outdoors, but can also breed indoors. It is a common indoor pest, and a nuisance because of its continuous chirping sound. During the day, they forage for food scraps and crumbs, and also feed on plant material, dead insects, and fabrics such as silk and wool. They can be seen in kitchen corners, under shelving, behind appliances, and crawling up foundation walls where they invade homes through open cracks and crevices.
Field crickets prefer to live outdoors, but can occasionally be an indoor invader. They are attracted to outdoor lights and are known for their “singing”. They are found in caves, fields, pastures and in lawns feeding on a variety of plants. When indoors, the can cause damage by feeding on fabric, such as cotton, linen, silk and wool.
Camel crickets can be found mainly in cool, damp, and dark areas. Outdoors they can be found in caves, wells, hollow trees, under rotten logs, and damp leaves feeding on plant debris. When indoors, they seek dark, damp areas such as basements, garages, bathrooms, laundry rooms, etc. They can damage stored items such as garments and linens.
Prevention and Management
The best strategy for cricket control is prevention. An Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program can help maintain a cricket-free environment.
It is important to recognize and alter conditions around a home or building to limit areas where crickets can gain access from the outside.
Exclusion. Limit areas where crickets can gain access into buildings by caulking & repairing gaps around the dwelling.
Sanitation. Reduce the possibility of an infestation by eliminating possible breeding sites in order to discourage crickets from laying eggs.
Modify Habitat. Alter the environment around the dwelling by reducing the number of harborage areas.
The following steps can be taken to help prevent or reduce a potential problem with crickets.
- Provide suitable drainage for basements, cellars, and crawl spaces under the building to reduce moisture.
- Dry out damp moisture areas by using a dehumidifier.
- Fill all visible cracks and voids in the foundation as well as using sealant or weather-stripping around windows, doors and screens.
- Install door sweepers to insure that doors close tightly.
- Keep pet feeding bowls clean, and store pet food in airtight containers.
- Reduce its food supply; keep floors clean, especially in corners and under shelving.
- Remove all un-kept wooden debris, dead trees, stumps and other vegetation from around the property.
- Turn off unnecessary lights at night or use yellow lights to avoid attracting field and house crickets.
- Repair leaking faucets, water pipes, and air conditioning units.