Crickets are members of the order Orthoptera, which include grasshoppers and katydids. Crickets can be distinguished from grasshoppers by the way the wings are carried. The cricket carries its wings folded around the body, while the grasshopper carries its wings tent-like over the body. The sounds produced by crickets are made by the males rubbing their wings together to attract females. There are several hundred species of crickets found throughout the world, but the two most common to invade homes in the United States are the house cricket and field cricket.
House crickets are about 3/4” long with three dark bands on the head and long antennae. The body is light yellowish-brown and this cricket is most active at night, remaining hidden during the day. Field crickets are larger than house crickets and have wings that extend beyond their wing covers. Usually brown or blackish in color, field crickets frequently invade homes and are frequently found in pastures and meadows.
House and field crickets have three stages in their life cycle: egg, nymph, and adult. A cricket begins its life as an egg and develops into a nymph in about 14 days. Nymphs are wingless and look like small versions of adult crickets. Nymphs often times become prey for larger crickets and other insects. Crickets can live for over six weeks and their entire life cycle lasts 2-3 months depending on their surroundings. Crickets are most noticeable in the summer and early fall when populations reach maturity.
To attract females, male crickets chirp by scraping their wings together. After mating, most cricket eggs are laid in the fall in damp soil. A mature female cricket can lay 150-400 eggs per day. Eggs hatch in spring, becoming adults in July and August. Once a cricket reaches maturity and its wings are fully developed, it has two goals: eating and mating. A single female cricket has the ability to produce over 3000 eggs in her short lifetime.
Although they can bite, it is rare for a cricket’s mouthparts to puncture human skin. Crickets do carry a significant number of diseases, but do not transmit any fatal diseases to humans. The danger with crickets isn’t their bite; it is the parasites they can carry in their bodies and in their waste, like E. coli and salmonella.
It is usually after crickets have entered the home that most people really notice them and have complaints. The relentless nocturnal chirping produced by crickets can be especially bothersome to homeowners.
The house cricket and field cricket commonly invade homes in great numbers. When present in large numbers, crickets are a considerable annoyance and can cause damage to some fabrics such as silk, linens, rayon, and furs. They will attack paper, fruits, vegetables, and even rubber. They are omnivorous, eating and drinking almost anything available.
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Unlike other home invaders, such as earwigs and boxelder bugs, which do not survive indoors, crickets do feed indoors and can live for longer periods of time than other nuisance pests. Follow these preventative pest control measures to keep crickets from entering your home.
- Make sure screen doors around your home are tight fitting and in good condition. Use weather stripping and door sweeps to keep crickets outside.
- Crickets commonly spend daylight hours hiding in dark, damp areas. Eliminate piles of wood, bricks, stone and other debris around the home to help reduce hiding spots.
- If crickets or their eggs are found indoors, use a vacuum to clean them up and dispose in trash.
- As crickets are attracted to light, consider changing outdoor lighting to less-attractive yellow bulbs or sodium vapor lamps.
- Place boric acid around the areas of your home where crickets congregate. Boric acid is a natural element that is generally safe for humans, but deadly to insects.
- Diatomaceous earth can be applied both indoors and outdoors and is safe if consumed by pets. Although it has no effect on humans or pets, this product works by scratching the exoskeleton of crickets, which leads to dehydration and death.