In the Walt Disney film "Mulan," Cri-kee the cricket is considered to be a lucky charm for Mulan's family. The idea for this character was based on the traditional Chinese custom of keeping crickets in cages in the home for luck. Many Indigenous tribes also thought that crickets brought good luck, and a similar belief holds true for many Americans, who believe it's bad luck to kill or even harm a cricket in the house.
Despite these beliefs though, the incessant chirping (which is caused by the rubbing together of their wings to attract a mate) in one's home can quickly become annoying, especially because they only seem to go quiet when the search for them begins. The good news: You can follow this advice to easily identify and rid your home of crickets in no time.
Types of Crickets
In North America, there are two primary types of crickets you may encounter either around your property or sneaking into your home. The first is Acheta domesticus, commonly known as the house cricket. This little critter is about an inch in length and has a light yellowish-brown body with three distinct dark bands on its head, bent back legs, antennae, and long, pointed wings. The house cricket will eat almost anything and can often be found chewing on fabrics, paper, rubber, and foods. They are attracted to warm, moist environments and enter homes through various cracks or openings in window and door frames, as well as masonry.
Another widely recognized type of cricket is the field cricket, scientifically known as Gryllus. It differs slightly in appearance compared to the house cricket, with darker coloring (often appearing black) and a smaller body. They can found around your yard in tall grass, shrubbery, or piles of wood, and are often spotted leaping away when startled (similar to their insect cousin, the grasshopper).
Why Crickets Come In
Like millipedes and centipedes, crickets are considered to be only occasional invaders of homes and other buildings. They prefer to live outdoors and don't survive well or breed indoors, so true home infestations are not terribly frequent. However, they will enter structures in search of shelter if the weather gets bad or if they just accidentally happen to hop through a door, window, or another opening.
Because crickets are attracted to warmth, they are most likely to be found in kitchens or near sources of heat, such as a furnace or water heater. Once inside, they can burrow into cracks and behind baseboards, but still may often escape to the outdoors when they get the chance.
Getting Rid of Crickets
A cricket or two in your home will rarely cause damage, but high populations can be of concern because of their tendency to chew on any fabric or paper laying about. To control crickets in your home, start by placing glue boards in the areas of the room where chirping is most often heard. If you'd like, you can place cornmeal in the center of the board as bait. In most cases, you'll have caught your cricket culprit within a day or two. Likewise, if you spot any crickets outright, you can skip the glue boards and instead trap them using a vacuum hose before emptying the canister outside.
If you notice a heavy infestation has developed, sprays and baits to eradicate crickets are available through home and garden stores. When using any chemical (spray and bait traps alike), be sure to purchase only those labeled for the insect you want to control and the area it is to be used, then read and follow all label directions. As a general rule, spray any pesticides around the entry points of your home, on your baseboards, and in garage and basement areas.
Keep Crickets Out for Good
Crickets can only enter the home if there is an opening for them to get in, and they can only survive if conditions allow. To prevent future infestations, caulk or seal all potential entry points, such as cracks in the foundation and gaps around doors and low windows. Keep the foundation and perimeter of your home free of tall grass, weeds, and mulch, and never store firewood or other organic material or debris near the home, which can allow crickets and other pests to use the wood for shelter and then make their way indoors.
Additionally, crickets are known to be attracted to lights once the sun has set. To prevent enticing them to your porch or windowsill, use yellow sodium-vapor lighting outdoors rather than white or mercury vapor lights. When possible, place lights on poles with the lighting directed toward the door or area you wish to light. This will draw insects to the light source rather than to your open door.