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Extension > Garden > Insects > Crickets

Crickets

Jeffrey Hahn and Mark Ascerno, University of Minnesota
Reviewed 2008

Crickets are a group of insects related to grasshoppers and katydids. You can identify them from their long antennae (as long as their body or longer) and their large back legs, which they use for jumping or hopping. Adult females have a conspicuous sword-like ovipositor or egg-laying device extending backwards from the tip of the abdomen. Crickets are famous songsters. Male crickets chirp by rubbing their wings together. Crickets are usually active at night.

While crickets are common outdoors, they may accidently enter homes. Crickets only have one generation per year in Minnesota and seldom reproduce indoors. They enter buildings through open doors and windows, cracks around poorly fitted windows, in foundations, in siding, and spaces under doors, so it may be difficult to find the exact point of entry. In Minnesota, the most common crickets found in homes are the field cricket, the camel cricket, and the house cricket.

Field crickets

Field cricket

Figure 1. Field cricket, larger than natural size

Camel cricket

Figure 2. Camel cricket, larger than natural size

House cricket

Figure 3. House cricket, larger than natural size

Field crickets have a 1/23/4 inch long body and are dark brown to black. They have rounded wings that almost cover their body. Field crickets are well known for their singing. You can estimate the approximate temperature in degrees Fahrenheit by taking the number of chirps in 15 seconds then adding 40.

Field crickets are commonly found in fields, pastures, along roadsides, and in yards where they feed on a variety of plants. They also are known to feed on dead or weakened insects, including other crickets. Field crickets are strongly attracted to light. When indoors, they can feed on fabric, such as cotton, linen, silk, and wool. They tend to feed on material soiled by food or perspiration. Damage to these fabrics is more likely when large numbers of crickets are present.

Camel crickets

Camel crickets are tan, humped-backed, and have a body length of about 3/4 inch. Unlike field crickets, camel crickets are wingless.

Camel crickets (also known as cave crickets) are found in cool, damp, and dark areas. Outdoors, they are often found under logs and stones and they feed on plant debris. Camel crickets are not attracted to light. When they enter homes, camel crickets search for conditions similar to their outdoor environment, which often leads them to basements and other dark areas. Indoors they sometimes feed on paper products. They seldom chew fabrics.

House crickets

House crickets are light yellowish-brown with three dark bands behind the head, and long, pointed wings. Their body length is about 3/4 inch long.

House crickets are common outdoors and are particularly common around garbage dumps. Like field crickets, house crickets are strongly attracted to light. They feed on plant material and dead or weakened insects. House crickets can feed on fabrics, such as silk and wool, and can cause severe damage, especially if they are numerous.

Control of crickets

Crickets should not be considered a serious pest in homes. They are more often just a nuisance, causing little actual damage to property.

Outdoors

Non-chemical control

The first step in cricket control is to limit areas where crickets gain access to buildings from the outside. Do this through exclusion, sanitation, and habitat modification:

Caulk or repair cracks and gaps that are found in the foundation, around doors, ground-level windows, or other areas that crickets could use to enter indoors.

Cut weeds and tall grass growing near the home's foundation. This provides crickets an unfavorable environment, giving them less chance to enter buildings.

Remove firewood, brush, bricks, and other objects or debris close to the house. Set garbage cans on wood blocks. This reduces the number of harborage areas available to crickets giving them less opportunity to enter buildings.

Reduce outside lighting to avoid attracting field crickets and house crickets. Turn off unnecessary lights at night or use less attractive yellow lights instead of white, neon, or mercury vapor lights.

Insecticidal control

If non-chemical methods are not sufficient to control crickets, it may be necessary to use an insecticide, especially if large numbers of crickets are entering your home. Use either chlorpyrifos (Dursban) or diazinon to supplement non-chemical control methods. Be sure the product you plan to use is labelled for use around buildings. Spray around buildings in a band along the foundation and the ground.

CAUTION: Read all insecticide labels very carefully before buying and again before using to ensure proper use.

Indoors

Fortunately, crickets that enter buildings do not usually lay eggs of persist inside. These crickets normally die by autumn or early winter. There are several non-chemical and chemical options to help ensure they don't survive.

Non-chemical control

Dry out damp areas with a fan or dehumidifier. This is especially effective for camel crickets which prefer a moist environment.

Clean up boxes, papers, and other objects and clutter. This minimizes potential hiding places.

Use sticky traps, such as Roach Motels, to catch crickets. Place traps in areas where crickets are found. When they walk onto the glue, they are caught and die. Camel crickets especially are attracted to these traps.

Insecticidal control

Indoor control of crickets with insecticides is usually not effective or practical and should only be considered as a last resort. In cases where large numbers of crickets are found in a particular room or area, an application of an insecticide may help control them. If insecticidal control is necessary, use a product labelled for indoor use, such as chlorpyrifos (Dursban), permethrin, or propoxur (Baygon). These insecticides are purchased in aerosol or liquid ready-to-use containers. Apply these products along baseboards and other edges, in cracks and crevices and other areas where crickets are found.

CAUTION: Read all insecticide labels very carefully before buying and again before using to ensure proper use.

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