For Release September 3, 2002
The Annual Cricket Invasion Has Begun
by Chuck Otte, Geary County Extension Agent
Well, itís official, the annual cricket invasion is now underway. I had my first middle of the night cricket wake up call the middle of last week. I donít know how my wife can sleep right through those rascals, they wake me up every time!
We actually have a couple of different cricket species that give us grief, but right now we are dealing with the group known as field crickets. Most of the year, crickets exist in the great out doors doing whatever it is crickets do, I reckon mainly eating and creating more little crickets. But by late summer, crickets get the urge to travel. If they wanted to head to the Gulf Coast it wouldnít hurt my feelings any, but they always seem to want to travel into homes. What they are trying to do is simply find a place to spend the winter.
Unfortunately, crickets do more than just wake us up and annoy us with their calling, they also eat things, all sorts of things. They will eat woolens, furs, silks, cottons and many other fabrics. Obviously, the more crickets you have in your house and the longer they are present, the more damage they can do..
Not all crickets make noise, just the males. If you see crickets, it is easy to determine males and females. Females have long ovipositors (egg layers) that extend out from their abdomen between their hind legs. While female crickets make more crickets, they donít make noise. The male crickets make the noise by rubbing their outer pair of wings together (not their legs!) The sounds are used in courtship, fighting, alarm, and of course to annoy human beings!
Control of these annoying rascals is a multipronged approach. Start by keeping weeds and grass around the house mowed down. Make it harder for them to get up to the house undetected by predators. Predators of crickets include many bird species, lizards and skinks, snakes (especially garter snakes) and shrews.
Next, make it as difficult as possible for crickets to get in the house. Make sure that foundations are tight, caulking any cracks that have developed. Caulk around all utility entrances. Make sure that windows and doors fit tight and make sure that they arenít left open. While youíre standing in the doorway talking to the neighbors or calling your kids, crickets are sneaking in around your feet. Clean up attached garages and make sure that the weather stripping at the bottom of the garage door is also a snug fit. I am convinced that crickets get into my house via the garage!
Notice that the first two items Iíve mentioned do not include pesticides. The next step, if you want to go this far, is to treat around the house and foundation with a pesticide. Many lawn and garden products are labeled for nuisance insects outside the home. Mix according to label directions and spray up on the foundation and out away from the foundation. This mixture is often strong so avoid spraying onto plants. This will help reduce all invading insects and spiders.
Finally, after all of these other efforts, if you still find you have crickets in the house, you can treat inside the house. Forget the foggers, they arenít very effective for anything other than a few flying insects. Use one of the premixed ready to use indoor pest control products. These are not the fast acting aerosols and usually come in a Ĺ or 1 gallon container. Spray the baseboard area around exterior doors, around sinks and behind furniture. These are the insect entrance and travel routes. It is a waste of time to spray entire carpets. Read and follow all label directions.
Crickets are annoying and they can cause damage, not to mention loss of sleep. But a little time spent on management and treatment can greatly reduce the annoyance of these annual invaders!
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