Crickets can be charming in literature. Think of Walt Disney’s Jiminy Cricket or Charles Dickens’ “Cricket on the Hearth”. Some cultures, such as many Native American tribes, even consider crickets to be good luck.
However, today’s reality is that crickets can be a nuisance. Not only is their constant chirping noisy, but they can bring diseases and parasites into your home, including E coli bacteria and salmonella. They also like to chew on things and can damage your upholstered furniture, clothing and even wallpaper.
In the garden, they can eat green, leafy plants down to the soil level. Crickets of all types tend to be most prevalent in the spring and the fall. According to “Country Living” magazine, the majority of crickets found in North American homes are field crickets.
These crickets are noted for their dark color and glossy body. Other, less common, varieties include house crickets, which have stripes behind their heads, and spider crickets, also called camel crickets, which are noiseless, long-legged and tend to congregate in large colonies. Residents in Utah, Idaho, Nevada and surrounding areas also have so-called Mormon crickets, large crickets that can be highly destructive to crops and landscaping.
The information below is compiled from direct interviews with a variety of pest control experts around the United States as well as past interviews with experts in the industry archived on the internet.
Related: All types of insects that invade homes | Get Rid of Moths in Closets | Get Rid of Carpet Beetles | Get Rid of Flies | Get Rid of Earwigs | Get Rid of Moths | Get Rid of Stinkbugs | Get Rid of Fruit Flies | Get Rid of Fleas | Get Rid of Ants | Get Rid of Gnats | Get Rid of Mice
How to keep crickets out of your house
The best way to prevent crickets from becoming a nuisance in your home and your property is to discourage them from entering your home in the first place. Our experts suggested the following to prevent crickets from setting up housekeeping in your home:
1. Limit your use of outdoor lighting.
Crickets, like many other insects and pests, are drawn to light. Keeping your use of outdoor lights to a minimum will not only keep your electric bill under control, but will avoid sending a welcome beacon to all of the crickets in your neighborhood, advises Molly Keck, an entomologist for Texas A&M Agrilife Extension. If you must use lights outdoors, she suggests yellow bulbs, which are less attractive to pests.
2. Stop hoarding newspapers and magazines.
Crickets thrive on all of that paper, so stop piling up those magazines and newspapers and switch to the digital versions. If that’s not an option for you, at least discard the papers or periodicals in your home as soon as you finish reading them. “(Crickets) feed on anything organic, dead or alive, including dead animals, mold, mildew, old food and paper products,” says Jim Horton of QualityPro Pest Control and Wildlife Services in Tarrytown, in New York’s Hudson Valley.
3. Keep the grass and landscaping trimmed around your foundation.
Crickets love long grass. You’ll discourage them from hanging around for long if you keep your grass short. Says Oklahoma exterminator Scott Brown, “Any type of over vegetation, (you) definitely want to get rid of it, that’s just a place to harbor crickets.” Chelle Hartzer, a board-certified entomologist and a technical services manager for Orkin, recommends making sure that trees and bushes are neatly trimmed back and that areas near your home are not over watered.
4. Patch those cracks.
Hartzer’s advice brings us to our next suggestion. Cracks in your foundation, even small ones, are great entrance points for crickets. Make a point of examining your foundation every fall and spring and filling those gaps with caulk.
Rosie Romano, the host of “Rosie on the House”, a Phoenix home improvement television show, advises, when searching for cracks “search for other places where critters can come into the home from outdoors—the roof line and entry points for plumbing and electrical connections, for example.” Scott Brown also feels paying attention to cracks is important. He says, “What we recommend is trying to seal up around any doors, windows, garage doors, any place that the crickets can actually get into your home,” This will not only help keep critters at bay, but also help with your energy bills.
5. Fix any leaks or drips promptly.
Some types of crickets, and a host of other pests, are attracted to moist and damp areas. Make sure that you fix any dripping pipes or faucets or any leaks in your roof or eaves promptly to avoid creating an environment that’s inviting to crickets. Says Shane Hill, a technician at Green Home Pest Control in Chandler, Arizona, “Some of the research we’ve been looking at, mostly just like crickets and cockroaches, those kinds of bugs that like water.”
6. Clean your gutters regularly.
Keeping your gutters clean is a good idea for all kinds of reasons. However, it’s an excellent place for crickets to make a nest, advises home improvement expert Bob Villa. Not only are gutters moist, but they have an abundance of organic material, such as dead leaves, for the crickets to eat.
He advises cleaning them in both the spring and the fall to keep crickets away.
How to get rid of crickets in your house
If, despite your best efforts, you still find that you have crickets in your home, there are a number of products and tricks you can try to eradicate them. Below are just a few of the suggestions we learned from our experts:
1. Sprinkle boric acid.
Boric acid (not to be confused with Borax, a mineral found in the laundry aisle at the grocery) is safe to humans, but deadly to most insects, including crickets. Sprinkle a little on your doorstep, in kitchen corners, around the edges of your unfinished basement or in other places where crickets like to congregate. This is a relatively non-toxic and natural way to eliminate and deter crickets.
However, be careful around pets and toddlers who might walk through and then ingest the boric acid by licking their feet or paws.
2. Spray your home and property.
Scott Brown, our Oklahoma pest control contractor, recommends spraying every 90 days during the warm weather season. Of course, every part of the country is somewhat different, but you’ll want to spray regularly to prevent crickets and other pests from forming a colony. As crickets are insects, any commercial insecticide, such as Raid, will work.
Not everyone agrees. Rosie Romano, the host of “Rosie on the House”, says that spraying crickets will “drown the ones you can see, but their friends will simply sidestep the chemicals when they come out of their hiding places.” For that reason, she prefers traps.
Some people also use Niban (imidacloprid) granules. However, be careful if you have honeybees on your property, as these will be affected by the insecticide, also. Pets should be kept away from the area where you spray or use granules, and you should clean up the dead crickets and other bugs before letting them back into the area to prevent them from munching on the dosed dead bugs.
3. Set out bowls of soapy water.
“Better Homes and Garden” magazine offers another non-toxic solution for getting rid of crickets–setting out bowls of soapy water. The crickets are attracted to the water, and the soap will neutralize them. Some internet DIY-ers have suggested surrounding the bowls with cat or dog food.
Our experts debunk this idea, saying that the crickets will likely eat the food and avoid the water. Of course, when you use soapy water, you’ll want to check the bowls frequently, and avoid putting them where your pets are likely to drink from them.
4. Use traps.
One thing our experts agree on is using traps, even if they tend to differ on the type of trap. Chrissy Callahan of NBC’s “Today Show” recommends using inexpensive pest traps to get rid of crickets and other bugs naturally. After trying several varieties, she recommends Terro Spider and Insect traps.
These are available online or at most hardware and home improvement stores. New Yok’s Jim Horton recommends glue traps for crickets, as an easy and effective way to get rid of these pests. Arizona’s Rosie Romano makes her own traps, using “a jar containing some water and molasses.”
5. Sprinkle a grandular bait in sidewalk and foundation cracks.
Howard Ryder of All Ways Exterminating Co. in Lynbrook, New York advises using a grandular bait. His company applies a granular bait such as InTice and a residual chemical inside every crack, crevice and crawlspace both inside and outside the home. He says the one his company uses is safe for use around pets and children. (He does caution against using a grandular bait when there are children under one year and pregnant women in the house.)
6. Don’t rule out the low-tech methods.
University of Maryland entomologist Mike Raupp told us about a listener to his Washington DC-area radio show who killed multiple crickets in his home by simply putting down a strip of masking tape, face up, in cricket high-traffic areas. Crude, maybe, but also inexpensive and effective.
How to get rid of crickets in your garden
A few crickets can be beneficial to your garden. They eat weed seeds and can help turn the soil in your garden begs into rich compost. However, too many crickets can be a problem in the garden and can ruin all of your careful landscaping.
A large group of crickets can consume the plants in your garden and leave you with just stems, if left unchecked. Some regions of the country are worse than others for outdoor cricket damage. Idaho farmers have recently described crickets in their area as more of a plague, according to Cole Morrison, Idaho Ag Program Specialist.
“They’ll go through and strip a half acre a day,” he explains. Getting rid of garden crickets can be a little more tricky, since you don’t have any barriers to new crickets coming into your yard and you don’t want to harm your plants. However, there are a few easy things you can do to make crickets decide that the neighbor’s yard is more attractive than yours.
1. Use diatomaceous earth.
Nature blogger, Colin Purrington advises using diatomaceous earth to deter crickets without resorting to pesticides and other potentially-harmful chemicals. You can buy this product at most garden and hardware stores. It’s not really soil, but rather long-dead algae with hard cell walls made of silica.
The sharp edges of the product are painful to the crickets, so they will avoid the area, plus the silica acts as a dehydrating agent on the bugs and will eventually kill them if they come in contact with even a grain.
2. Make an organic repellent.
Seemingly every gardener has his or her own recipe for a natural garden bug repellent. Realtor.com shares their favorite, a mixture of hot chili pepper oil, water and dish soap. Rhonda Novak, a gardener and writer from the Rogue Valley in Oregon, recommends mixing one blended garlic bulb, one teaspoon of red pepper powder and one tablespoon of liquid soap with one quart of water and then spraying the repellent where the crickets congregate. Novak offers one caveat, however. She says “…according to some folklore, killing crickets brings bad luck,” so you might not want to kill them.
3. Add some nitrogen-fixing plants in your garden.
Nitrogen-fixing plants draw nitrogen from the air into their roots, something that irritates crickets and other insects. These plants include peas, beans and legumes like lentils. Other plants that will deter crickets because of their strong flavors include garlic, sweet potatoes, cilantro and sweet peas.
4. Try physical control.
Home Guides advises that one of the most low-tech and effective ways is simply to hand pick the crickets off of your leaves and out of your garden, put them in a plastic bag and discard them. Unless you have a large colony of crickets, this should take care of the problem without adding any pesticides or other chemicals that can harm or stunt the growth of your other plants.
5. Encourage natural predators.
Another natural method of controlling crickets in your garden is to encourage their natural predators to hang out in your yard. While your house cat may have fun with them, she’s not really a reliable predator. We’re talking about lizards, harmless spiders and most birds.
GardeningKnowHow.com advises not chasing these predators away and even providing a welcoming environment for them, such as by adding bird feeders to your yard. Preventing crickets from invading your property and ridding your home and garden of these noisy and noxious pests doesn’t have to be an impossible task. Keep your clutter at bay, trim the grass around your foundation and seal up those cracks.
If you still have crickets, even after your best efforts, look to the advice of our experts and find a way to get rid of crickets that works best for you and your family.