Protect Your Home or Business From Crickets
Members of the family Gryllidae, crickets bear a strong resemblance to grasshoppers and also are closely related to katydids.
The insects are distributed worldwide, with more than 120 different species of crickets found in the United States alone. Crickets are widespread residents across all states in New England.
Some of the most common New England cricket species include:
- Camel crickets
- Field crickets
- House crickets
Known for producing melodic chirping noises, crickets pose no significant threats to humans. However, the insects sometimes inadvertently enter homes, where they can damage property and, depending on the species, reproduce indoors.
Appearance & IdentificationWhat Do Crickets Look Like?
Often mistaken for grasshoppers, crickets measure roughly 3/4 of an inch in length as adults and boast prominent hind legs, which enable the insects to jump and leap. The cricket also features a pair of long, slender antennae (antenna equal to about a full body length).
Females possess an ovipositor, which is used to lay eggs and visibly protrudes from the abdomen. Field crickets range in color from dark brown to black, while house crickets are lighter yellowish-brown and display three dark bands running horizontally across the back of the head.
Both species have long pairs of wings, which are rounded on field crickets and pointed on house crickets.
In contrast, camel crickets remain wingless. Tan in color, the camel cricket differs further from other crickets in New England by exhibiting a humped back reminiscent of the widely recognizable desert animal for which the insect is named.
Regardless of species, immature crickets look like smaller, wingless versions of adults.
Habits & Habitat
Nocturnal animals, crickets tend to remain in hiding during the day and become active at night.
Despite using the daytime hours primarily to hide, the field cricket and the house cricket demonstrate a strong attraction to light. Electric lights, in fact, sometimes attract house crickets in groups as large as 1,000 or more.
Camel crickets, on the other hand, prefer to stay in cool, dark areas with plenty of moisture, even in indoor environments. The camel cricket is commonly found under or in:
- Damp basements
- Utility rooms
House crickets frequently visit outdoor garbage dumps, while field crickets are commonly found in in meadows and yards.
The insects move indoors with greater frequency when the weather becomes either hot and dry or cold and wintry.
Famous for chirping, male crickets rub their wings together to produce the distinctive sound, which serves as a mating call (process termed stridulation). Wingless cricket species, like camel crickets, prove incapable of chirping.
DietWhat Do Crickets Eat?
As omnivorous scavengers, crickets eat materials derived from either plants or other animals. In the natural environments, the insects largely feed on plants and plant debris.
Crickets will also consume dead or debilitated insects, including other crickets. When residing indoors, the insects eat a variety of fabrics or paper products.
Crickets usually mate during late summer and lay eggs in the fall. Depending on the species, crickets either overwinter in the egg or as newly hatched nymphs.
After hatching and possibly overwintering, immature nymphs grow by molting several times over the course of the cricket life cycle.
Though smaller and wingless, nymphs otherwise resemble adult crickets. The insects typically reach adulthood about two or three months after emerging from the egg and live for a year or longer.
Problems Caused by Crickets
Although crickets are generally harmless to humans, many of whom enjoy their pleasant chirping, the insects sometimes invade homes and cause property damage.
Indoors, crickets commonly eat various fabrics like wool, silk, linen, and cotton. Their appetite for fabric regularly leads the insects to feed on, and damage, possessions such as clothing, drapes, and rugs.
Crickets tend to prefer items stained with the remnants of food or perspiration. Though usually considered nothing more than a nuisance, the insect has the potential to infest structures in large numbers and cause significant damage around the home.
Unlike field crickets, the camel cricket and house cricket are capable of reproducing and laying eggs indoors.
Signs of Infestation
Because crickets in indoor environments often feed on fabrics, damage to clothing and other cloth items serves as a major sign of infestation.
The chirping of male crickets, particularly on warm summer nights, also indicates the presence of the insects. Molted skin cases shed by maturing nymphs are another sign of a cricket infestation.
Crickets usually gain entry into buildings through cracks and spaces around windows, doors, foundations, and siding.
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Preventing crickets from entering the home involves the elimination of access points and the removal of ideal habitats in the vicinity.
New England homeowners should seal all cracks in the foundation as well as around windows and doors to block crickets from entering. Residents should also remove environments in which the insects like to hide by keeping brush, bricks, firewood, mulch, tall grass, and weeds away from the area immediately surrounding the home.
Reducing the amount of outdoor lighting illuminating the yard may also help make the area less attractive to crickets.
If precautionary measures fail to prevent a cricket infestation, consider allowing a professional pest control service to handle the problem safely and effectively. A home inspection may help to get rid of crickets.