For Release September 8, 1998

Invasion of the Crickets

AGRI-VIEWS
by Chuck Otte, County Extension Agent

Poets have waxed philosophical about crickets for centuries. Scientists discovered years ago a formula whereby you could count the number of cricket chirps in a period of time and determine the temperature. In some parts of the world crickets are kept in cages for the pleasure of the household. Let me tell you one other cricket tidbit. If I wake up at 4 in the morning with a cricket chirping in the house I’m not fit to live with until I have found and discarded the little chirper!

1998 has been the year of the insect so we should not be surprised that we are facing yet another massive cricket invasion. First of all don’t take this invasion personally! Everybody is being troubled by them, they haven’t just selected your home to take up residence! Crickets are very common household invaders. They are fairly small and can enter buildings through open doors and windows as well as poorly fitting windows or doors, utility service entrances, cracks in foundations, gaps in siding or just hitchhiking in on you or your belongings. Next time you’ve been gone from your home for a little while, especially in the morning or evening, carefully look around your front door before you go in. Chances are that you’ll find a little cricket not too far away.

Most of the crickets we see are either the house cricket or one of the field crickets. They look very similar and can range in size from inch to one inch in length. Field crickets will invade buildings but they aren’t well adapted to live there. House crickets will live and reproduce outside during the summer but they can also live and reproduce inside year round. While they are outside most crickets prefer vegetation. But once crickets get indoors they will feed on a wide variety of organic materials. They can cause damage to any natural materials including woolens, furs, silk, cotton and other fabrics. For some reason they tend to be quite attracted to clothing soiled with perspiration.

The first step is prevention. Keep tall grass and weeds mowed down around the home. General debris and clutter around a home will also create a haven for crickets. Like most other insects, crickets are attracted to lights at night but I wouldn’t shut off all my outside lights just to try to reduce crickets in the house. Keeping your house sealed up and tight is also an important management technique in reducing not just cricket but other invading insects as well. Make sure doors and windows fit tight and are not left open. Keep utility entrances sealed tight and caulk all cracks in foundations.

In severe cricket years, like this year, chemical control may be necessary. This has to be your decision. Even with a tight home, you can expect a few crickets to get in. If, after cleaning up around the outside and sealing the house, you are finding several a day you may need to treat with an insecticide. Start with an exterior treatment. You can use diazinon (use the nuisance pest mixing instructions but only for outside use and not on plants), Dursban or Baygon. Spray up on the foundation several inches and out away from the foundation a foot or so. Concentrate sprays around door thresholds, utility service entrances, under garbage cans or other areas where you’ve seen crickets gathering. Keep pets and children away from these sprayed areas until they are dry.

If you are still bothered with crickets you can use an inside treatment. Use one of the premixed ready to use home pest control products usually containing Dursban (chlorpyrifos). Spray baseboard areas in rooms where crickets are being seen. Spray in front of doors, spray basements and under sinks, dishwashers or other areas that may be warm and damp. Do not spray entire floor areas as crickets will normally be found only along the wall. More information on crickets can be found in a bulletin available from the Extension Office, 119 East 9th in Junction City.

The crickets are rather annoying and will continue to be until the weather cools down. You can write about them, tell the temperature from them or keep them as pets. But please just keep them out of my bedroom!

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