Not Just a Nuisance: Cricket Control

Matthew D. Terry Ph.D., Entomology

Crickets belong to the insect order Orthoptera, a group which also includes Grasshoppers and Katydids and is easily distinguished from other insect groups by large hind legs which are modified for jumping. Crickets in and around your home pose no health risks and usually cause no observable damage, however they can become a nuisance particularly in large numbers. To attract a mate male crickets produce a chirping noise by rubbing their front wings together. Although many people enjoy this sound (this song is one reason crickets are often kept as pets in China) it can become bothersome if it continues for a long period of time or if you are trying to get some sleep.

In Arizona there are commonly three types of crickets that can become pests. All of these species are about the same size (just under an inch long as adults) and have similar habits, but are easily distinguished from one another. The Field Cricket (Gryllus spp.) is a dark brown to black insect with prominent spurs lining much of their jumping leg. The House Cricket (Acheta domesticus) is much lighter, ranging from tan to light brown, and has smaller spurs along its legs. Both males and females of these groups have wings that are held flat along the back and cover the entire abdomen. The Tropical House Cricket (Gryllodes supplicans) is also a tan color, but males have drastically shortened wings and females are almost completely wingless and have two dark bands of pigment encircling their bodies.

Biology: Crickets are primarily active at night and spend the day hidden in moist shady spots near ground level. Female crickets are easily distinguished from the males by a long, slender ovipositor at the tip of the abdomen. This syringe-like structure is inserted into moist soil and used to deposit small groups of eggs, which take 2 to 4 weeks to hatch, depending on the surrounding temperature. Unlike flies and butterflies crickets undergo direct development; there is no larval stage (i.e.; maggot, caterpillar) and newly hatched crickets look like miniature, winged versions of their parents. After several molts they gain adult characteristics and begin producing the next generation.

Control Measures: Crickets that enter your home are looking for food, trying to find more comfortable temperatures, or simply exploring. The most important thing you can do to keep crickets outside is seal any openings or cracks that would provide a route indoors, particularly at or near ground level. In addition, an integrated pest management solution will make nesting sites inhospitable and significantly reduce the number of crickets that can potentially gain entry into the home. Check the seals along the base of exterior doors and make sure window and door screens fit snugly in their frames. Crickets need suitable hiding places during the day to avoid drying out and overheating and love stacked firewood, under the lip of stucco homes around the entire foundation, meter boxes, eroded expansion joints, piles of rock, or other shady cover at ground level. If you remove cricket hideouts and consistently apply pest control treatment to hideouts that you cannot remove, you will dramatically reduce the number of crickets trying to invade your home.

About the author: Matthew Terry is the contributing entomologist for Blue Sky Pest Control. He did his post doctoral work at the University of Arizona and currently continues his research and teaches at the University of Texas in Edinburg. Contact Blue Sky Pest Control at (480) 635-8492 if you have additional questions or visit the website at

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