Good Luck When Jiminy Cricket Arrives
By Ray Novitske, Fairfax Master Gardener
As weather cools, crickets will seek shelter in warmer areas such as in buildings where they are unwanted. They can become an agricultural pest in spring, as some subspecies cause damage to seedlings and transplants, feeding on leaves at night and leaving holes in leaves. They get into our homes by entering through cracks, holes and crevices in the foundation. Sometimes they hide in cracks at door thresholds and then leap indoors when the door is opened. Buildings that are brightly-lit tend to attract crickets at night, and they gather at buildings under doors at well-lit entryways.
Crickets mainly feed on dead and dying insects, seeds, fruit and other outdoor debris. They can damage garden plants and flowers, too. Inside, they can eat fabric, paper, wool and other common materials. Clothes are more attractive when unwashed and contain perspiration and body oils. Once inside, they can last several weeks as long as there is food.
For control, it is best to prevent them from coming into our homes by keeping them away. Seal up cracks around windows, doors, and foundations, and remove dead leaves and debris from around foundations and doors to eliminate hiding places. We can also encourage them to stay them away from the house. Keep odors from garbage cans to a minimum with lids or empty them frequently. Reduce damp areas near the house by improving drainage. Keep firewood stored outdoors at least several feet away from the house to minimize nearby hiding places. Firm, bare soil areas are preferred locations to lay eggs in the fall, so tillage reduces cricket populations in the spring by destroying their overwintering eggs.
Once inside, crickets can be more difficult to eliminate. Vacuum cleaners can be very effective in collecting them for disposal. Cats are entertained and are effective in catching the hopping menace. They can also be controlled with insecticidal baits and sprays. Baits use granules that contain food for them and usually also contain metaldehyde, carbaryl, propoxur or hydramethylnon. Don’t reach for the indoor sprays because they are very ineffective for controlling mature crickets.
This fall, when you hear the chirping of a cricket in your home, remember that they are usually not very destructive. Consider it your good luck as our ancestors did.
• Crickets, University of Maryland Extension
• Crickets in Strawberries, Hannah Burrack, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist Entomology,
NC State Extension
• Protect Home from Crickets, John Church, University of Illinois Extension
• Cricket Control in the Fall, Texas A&M Agrilife Extension
• Cricket Management, Arizona Extension
• Camel Crickets, Patricia A. Zungoli & Eric P. Benson, Clemson Cooperative Extension