Lawn & Garden Gardening Garden Pests

How to Get Rid of Crickets

If a cricket infestation is plaguing your property, use these strategies to send the pesky insects packing for good.
how to get rid of crickets
Photo: istockphoto.com

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The chirping of crickets may be a pleasant sound of summer, but these insects can become a real nuisance, especially if they take up residence inside your home and lay eggs. Between their constant racket, ability to jump up to 3 feet, and the possibility of carrying disease, crickets are hardly welcome guests. And while crickets may not be the most destructive pests, some species will snack on wood, paper, and fabrics. Learn more about these noisy, intrusive insects—and many ways to banish the bugs for good.

What are house crickets?

There are more than 900 unique species of crickets, but the ones likely to take up residence in your home are officially known as Acheta domesticus. They are found throughout the U.S., predominantly east of the Rocky Mountains. Folks who keep snakes and lizards purchase house crickets as food for their pets; this type of cricket is also consumed by people around the world as an inexpensive source of protein.

During warm weather, house crickets are happy outdoors, feasting on plants, garbage, and bugs. But when temperatures drop, they may move indoors because they prefer warm, moist environments.
If house crickets take up residence in your home, watch out: Carpets and clothing are vulnerable. The insects are fond of wool, cotton, silk, and synthetics, and items soiled with perspiration are especially tasty treats for house crickets.

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What do house crickets look like?

Although you may find house crickets outside in your yard, they differ from field crickets in behavior, diet, and appearance. Field crickets (Gryllinae) aredark brown to black, and can be a bane to gardeners because they eat vegetation and crops.

close view of field cricket
Field Cricket | Photo: istockphoto.com
overhead view of house cricket
House Cricket | Photo: istockphoto.com

The characteristics that will help you identify adult house crickets include:

  • a light yellowish brown body with three dark crossbands on the head
  • length of between 3/4 to 7/8 inch, which is shorter than that of field crickets.

  • threadlike antennae that are often longer than the body
  • wings that lie flat, which resemble those of cockroaches
  • long back legs that give them plenty of jumping power

RELATED: Bugs That Look Like Cockroaches

Signs of a House Cricket Infestation

Just one cricket in your abode is no cause for alarm, although the nocturnal intruder may keep you up at night. If house crickets move in and start breeding, though, you have a pest problem. Some signs that there may be a cricket infestation in your home include:

  • You’ve spotted multiple crickets inside.
  • You hear a chorus of crickets at night, loud enough that you know it’s not coming from outdoors.
  • Rugs and carpets have roughened areas and loose fibers.
  • Clothing, particularly attire that’s kept in a warm and/or damp environment, shows large holes (smaller holes may indicate a moth problem).
  • Upholstered furniture looks chewed along the edges. (Check it with a magnifying glass and you might actually see mandible marks.)

Before You Begin

House crickets should be gotten rid of before they settle in. While it’s rare for them to bite humans unprovoked, crickets can carry parasites and diseases like E.coli and salmonella, so you certainly wouldn’t want them in your kitchen or anywhere else sneaky insects hide. Nor would you want them feasting on your fabrics or important papers.

How to Get Rid of Crickets in the House

close view of a group of crickets on house floor
Photo: istockphoto.com

Follow these steps to determine where crickets are hiding, how to get rid of them, and how to keep them from coming back.

Step 1: Listen for crickets’ chirps.

The first step to removing crickets is figuring out where, exactly, they are hiding. Follow the sound of chirping, and be stealthy in your approach. If crickets hear you coming, they’ll likely quiet down.

RELATED: How to Get Rid of Mole Crickets

Step 2: Look for cricket nests in dark areas.

Crickets are fond of nesting in dark, moist environments, so focus your search on areas that provide cover. Outside, check along the perimeters of patios and walkways, under decorative planters and layers of mulch, and in the compost bin. Inside your home, look behind appliances, under sinks and in vanity cabinets, along the edges of carpets, and underneath furniture. If you have a basement, crickets could be anywhere, but be sure to check locations where you store seasonal items and clothing.

Step 3: Vacuum areas where you suspect cricket activity.

Enlist your vacuum in any area where you suspect crickets. Even if you don’t capture adult bugs,
you may well get their tiny eggs, which is key to preventing a more serious problem. Empty the vacuum dirt cup or bag into a trash bag, tie it off, and bring it outdoors when you’re done.

vacuuming to get rid of crickets
Photo: istockphoto.com

Step 4: Spread boric acid.

Often used as a pesticide, this weak monobasic Lewis acid of boron can be effective against crickets and other insects. It typically comes in powder, pellet, and tablet form, and should be sprinkled in areas where crickets nest, and in cracks and crevices where you suspect crickets are accessing your living space. (If you want to be especially thorough, you can also sprinkle some around the perimeter of the home.)

Keep pets and children away from these areas. Boric acid has a low level of toxicity, but can irritate skin. If it is accidentally ingested, it may cause vomiting and other gastrointestinal issues.

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Step 5: Set out a DIY trap.

Sticky traps and glue boards can catch crickets, or you can fashion your own DIY cricket trap: Fill a jar with a 1:10 mixture of molasses and water and place it near the suspected cricket nest. The sweet smell will attract the pests, the stickiness will trap them, and the water will ultimately drown them. If these techniques fail, try a store-bought pesticide spray. Following directions on the label carefully and only using the product in likely cricket nesting zones, like under the kitchen sink.

Step 6: Seal cracks and holes to the outside.

hands in construction gloves sealing a window with caulk sealant
Photo: istockphoto.com

Cracks and holes in the masonry, ripped window screens, and doors that don’t completely close are all “welcome!” signs for crickets. Take the time to button up your home’s exterior using caulks, sealants, rubber trim, and patching compounds. Once you seal these points of entry, crickets will have less opportunity to get in.

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Step 7: Try to mitigate moisture.

Reducing moist areas in and around your house will make your home less appealing to crickets.

  • Repair leaky faucets and appliances that use water.
  • Ensure there’s ample ventilation in a crawl space and the basement.
  • Invest in a robust dehumidifier for the basement.

Step 8: Experiment with different outdoor lighting.

Though crickets nest and lay eggs in dark places, these insects are nonetheless attracted to bright lights at night. Consider altering the use of outdoor lighting near your home. Switch to motion sensor-activated fixtures or replace white bulbs with amber-colored, anti-bug bulbs. Sodium vapor bulbs are also less likely to attract crickets.

clean gutters to get rid of crickets
Photo: istockphoto.com

Step 9: Make your home’s exterior unwelcoming to crickets.

Ensure that your home’s immediate surroundings hold as few cricket enticements as possible. In the yard, keep the grass neatly mowed and the flower beds weeded. Prune trees and shrubs, especially those near your home’s foundation. Store firewood at least 20 feet away from your home. And don’t forget to clear your gutters. They’re a notorious hangout for pests.

FAQs

If crickets are driving you crazy and you still want more info about how they got in and how to get rid of them, see the answers to these common questions.

Q: How do you get rid of a cricket in the house?

If you hear loud chirping indoors, it may be an adult male cricket calling for a mate. Follow the sound as quietly as you can, so as not to startle the insect—if you do, it can jump a good 3 feet! It’s possible to catch the cricket with your bare hands and release it outside, but wash your hands well afterwards. You can also leave a plastic bottle with a small amount of soda or other sweetened drink inside. The cricket is likely to crawl in but will have trouble getting out.

Q: In what season do crickets go away?

Crickets are active in warm seasons, and the sound of their chirping is the male’s mating call often heard on summer nights. They typically die off in the fall, but the problem is, cricket eggs overwinter and hatch a whole new generation in the spring.

Q: How long do crickets live?

The lifespan of the average cricket is from spring to fall.

Final Thoughts

Like fireflies, crickets are a sign of summer and the sound of their chirping can be quite pleasant outdoors on a warm night. Unfortunately, they can be destructive indoors, nibbling on carpets, upholstered furniture, bedding, and clothing. If you’re not sure if the chirping you’re hearing is crickets or grasshoppers, consult our guide to help you pinpoint the culprits.