For Release September 25, 2005

It's Cricket Time!

by Chuck Otte, Geary County Extension Agent

It's officially autumn, the weather is starting to cool down and many of those crickets you hear outside your house in the evening, may soon be wanting to move inside with you. While they are a nuisance, crickets can cause damage to belongings as they will feed on almost anything. But to me, the damage is secondary to the nuisance of being awakened at 3:00 in the morning as a male cricket starts serenading in my bedroom!

There are both field crickets and house crickets in Kansas. In fact, there are several different species of field crickets, but telling them apart is nearly impossible for most of us. House crickets are smaller more brown in color than black and really not very common. The nice shiny black crickets are going to be field crickets.

The female does not make noise and has a very obvious egg laying device called an ovipositor extending from the back of her body. The males will not have an ovipositor and they are the noisy ones. Their food is both plant and animal in origin but are also strongly carnivorous. They will tend to find each other and kill each other over time when in a building. Crickets can fly but often do not. If you find small black crickets at this time of year, they probably aren't young ones, but rather simply a smaller species of field cricket.

Keeping crickets out of your house is the same as keeping any other invading insect out of your house. You start by keeping the house as tight as possible. Check the foundation for cracks and caulk these closed. Look for windows or doors that don't fit tight. Apply weather stripping or other appropriate materials to close these gaps. Check where any utility enters the house. Make sure that these are caulked tight with no gaps or openings.

Then monitor your own activities. Many crickets, and other insects, come right in the front door. Or garage door. Or the back door. How often are you really looking straight down at the sidewalk as you walk in the house. Crickets will often gather around an entryway and come right in as we do. Doorways from the garage into the house are often the worst offender. Then watch youngsters as they come and go as they are inclined to leave doors open or take an extra long time entering or leaving. Sealing the house and monitoring your own activities should be done before attempting to use chemical controls.

If you do feel the need to spray, start with a good exterior spray like permethrin or cyfluthrin. Mix according to label directions and apply up about one foot on the foundation and then out away from the foundation a foot or two. Make sure you treat entryway thresholds especially well. Let this product dry before allowing children or pets back into the area. One spraying will last all fall and should not be repeated on a daily or weekly basis. These products won't kill the insects immediately, but they will die within a day or two after contacting the sprayed area.

If you want to treat inside the home, use a premixed ready to use product. Spray only the baseboard area, that's where the floor and the wall meet. Spray at entryways. Treat behind appliances and under sinks, basically treat the baseboard area wherever insects are commonly found. Again, one treatment will last all fall. Don't be spraying every few days just because you saw one insect and DO NOT broadcast sprays to cover the entire floor area. Spray only the baseboard areas. Ultrasonic and electronic insect repelling devices have not been found to be effective for insect or rodent control of any kind so save your money. And be patient, the season will be over with soon!


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