The sound of crickets chirping isn't uncommon in Oklahoma. Given the climate of this region, crickets are often found congregating in large groups and become a nuisance. The most devastating outbreak of crickets in Oklahoma occurred within 1953. Reports from the time stated that during the warm nights, the streets and walls would appear black. It was also reported that road conditions became hazardous due to the slick conditions caused when crickets became crushed on the roads.
Crickets are small insects that are classified by their cylindrical bodies and long antennae protruding from their head. Many crickets have wings that lie flat against the body and often will change in size depending on the species while some species have no wings at all.
Crickets are considered relatively defenseless because of the soft body they possess. In most cases, this is why you can find them hiding during the day. Other defensive strategies employed by crickets include camouflage and evasion.
Natural predators of crickets include many vertebrate and invertebrates. Spiders, various lizards and many other animals utilize large numbers of crickets as a food source. Crickets are also prone to different pathogens and parasites, cannibalism within cricket species can spread these parasites more rapidly.
The distribution of crickets around the world is widespread, as they have colonized nearly every cosmopolitan area except for cold regions. Crickets can exist within many different habitats and can be found in grass, tree canopies, in caves and subterranean environments. Many species have also colonized island areas, most likely traveling during human activity or floating wood particles.
When crickets are found within a home it is most often accidental. While indoors these pests will feast on wood, plastic and leather goods while most often damaging fabrics. In most cases, the most common complaint homeowners facing a cricket infestation have is the incessant chirping that comes along with their presence.
There are currently five known cricket species within Eastern Oklahoma. Of those five species, two are found within the western half of the state. These arthropods are related to both grasshoppers and katydids, resembling the same jumping skills and body composition.
While in a home, crickets will often leave piles of black colored feces that can easily be seen in areas with high population densities. Often these piles will be found within corners are will accumulate in sheltered areas outside of the home.
In many countries, crickets are kept in ornate cages as pets. This is most often seen in China, where the sound of cricket chirping is regarded as uplifting. Cricket fighting is also a traditional pastime that originally was enjoyed by emperors. When kept in isolation crickets can become overly aggressive, leading to effective training.
Insects have been used as a food source in many countries around the world for countless centuries. Crickets are among the most popular insect to be regarded as a protein source. Often crickets will be deep fried or dried and ground into a flour like substance.
Though crickets pose no immediate health risks, it is recommended that you wash your hands after coming into contact with either the insect or its feces. It is not uncommon for some individuals to be allergic to crickets and other arthropods. In the event you are allergic to cockroaches, you are likely to be allergic to crickets as well.
Though there are as many as five cricket species found within Oklahoma, four are the most commonly seen within homes. Because populations can increase rapidly, early prevention and eradication are important. Professional help may be necessary for controlling and eradicating the cricket population in your home.
House crickets are commonly found invading homes during rainy seasons. More often than not, they can be found foraging for food around kitchen baseboards during the morning. During the night, they will climb to higher locations within the home and chirp to attract females.
Rarely found intruding homes, the field cricket prefers to remain outdoors. However, these pests can be attracted to homes with outdoor lighting particularly during periods of heavy rain. In many cases, this species will be found congregating in large numbers on exterior walls.
Perhaps the most visually unappealing of the cricket family, the camel cricket has large back legs that many say make it resemble a spider. In recent years, this species has started to invade homes in large numbers. In most cases, camel crickets will be found in areas with high moisture content such as a basement or bathroom.
These large, brownish insects are often responsible for piles of dirt seen on prairies. Though visibly like other crickets, the mole cricket has mole-like front legs used to burrow and dig. Adult mole crickets have powerful wings and are adept, though clumsy, flyers.
Signs of Crickets
When identifying cricket infestations there are several tale-tell signs that can help with verification. If experiencing any of these signs within a home, it is most likely time to contact a professional. Remedying the problem before it becomes worse will always be the best solution.
- Visible populations of crickets within a home are a dead giveaway. Occasionally, homeowners may see lone crickets within their home that have wandered in accidentally. In most cases, crickets are likely to be found in high moisture areas such as a basement or a bathroom.
- Visible piles of cricket droppings are a dead giveaway of cricket infestation. Crickets will tend to congregate in the corners of homes, which is where feces piles are most likely to be found. Removal of feces is easily achieved with a vacuum cleaner.
- Incessant noise is another sign that crickets are inside of the home. Male crickets will chirp throughout the night to attract female crickets for mating. When chirping becomes too loud or prominent, it is likely you have a cricket problem even if they aren’t seen.
Crickets are primarily nocturnal and can be heard chirping at all hours of the night. While in a home, male crickets will attempt to reach the highest position possible to ensure their chirps are heard. Often they will be found on shelving or bookshelves.
Cricket chirping can take on different rates depending on the species and the immediate temperature. Most species will have higher chirping rates when the temperature is also high. One parasitic fly can place its larvae on field crickets, effectively causing a mutation that disables chirping.
Some species of cricket are strict herbivores, however, when deprived of their natural diet they will become omnivorous. Other species of cricket are predators and will feed on small insects, juvenile insects and insect eggs, often resorting to cannibalism for nourishment. Most cricket species are scavengers and will feed on decaying organic material, seeds and various fungi.
The life cycle of crickets follows a distinct three stage cycle. The entire life cycle of a cricket lasts up to three months depending on their surroundings, however up to two weeks of this time is at the egg stage.
Males will chirp by scraping their wings together to attract females for mating. After successfully mating, female crickets will use their ovipositor to place eggs into damp substrate. Female crickets are capable of laying as many as 200 eggs during her lifetime, often laying eggs continuously.
- Egg – Like many other insects, crickets begin their life cycle within an egg. The development process of a cricket during the egg stage lasts for around 14 days before it breaks out of the protective capsule. After emerging, the new cricket nymph will dig its way out of the substrate.
- Nymph – Nymph crickets lack wings that are commonly seen on their adult counterparts. Often adult crickets will prey on nymph crickets. After successfully molting up to 10 times, a nymph cricket will grow its wings, becoming an adult.
- Adult – In the adult stage, crickets have reached sexual maturity and will live to mate and eat. Male crickets will begin chirping to find fertile females and female crickets will begin finding suitable locations to deposit her eggs. Effectively, this process restarts the life cycle.
Though not harmful to humans, crickets can become a nuisance during the night by continuously chirping. When large groups are present this noise can become unbearable. If a homeowner spots many crickets within their home, professional help may be needed. To keep crickets from entering the home, several preventative methods can be put in place.
- Limit Outdoor Lighting – It's no secret that crickets are attracted to lights. This can often be observed in cities where crickets will congregate under streetlights. By limiting the amount of outdoor lighting around your home, and limiting the amount of light from inside going out, homeowners can expect fewer crickets to venture towards their home.
- Lawn Management – When grass grows tall, crickets will utilize a yard for the coverage it provides from potential predators. For this reason, regularly maintaining your yard will help limit the cricket populations you experience within these areas. Leaf litter, firewood piles and rock piles also provide excellent coverage for these pests and should be removed or move away from the home whenever possible.
- Reduce Clutter – Cluttered homes provide optimal hiding spots for not only crickets but many other pests that may see them as prey. Boxes, paper piles and improperly stored books are all enticing for cricket populations. Remove these items whenever possible and store paper products in their proper locations.
- Remove Moisture Sources – Crickets breed within areas that contain high levels of moisture such as basements, crawl spaces and bathrooms. By limiting the amount of moisture within the home through the use of a dehumidifier you are less likely to make these areas appealing to cricket populations. In some home, the addition of vents or vapor barriers may be necessary to remove moisture issues.
- Seal Cracks – Most pests will enter the home through foundation cracks or small gaps in a door frame or window. Crickets are no exception to this phenomenon and will penetrate even the smallest cracks a home offers. Sealing these entryways with caulk and replacing damaged window screens will ensure pests have a harder time entering the home.
- Pesticide Barrier – A residual pesticide barrier can be very efficient in preventing crickets from entering a home. Through the use of a proven cricket pesticide, homeowners can be sure that crickets are less likely to make their way indoors.
- Boric Acid – Boric acid has been touted as a pest prevention product for its insect elimination properties. This natural element is considered to be safe for humans but kills insects that come into contact with it. It is recommended to place boric acid wherever crickets may group within your home.
Ask the Entomologist
Most individuals believe the chirping noise crickets are responsible for is caused when male crickets rub their legs together. Male crickets use chirping as a calling song to attract females by rubbing their front wings together.
Why Arrow Exterminators?
We hope this information helps you prevent cricket infestations and keeps your home free from infestations all year long. If you are struggling with a cricket problem in your home or business, give us a call or visit our website to start a no obligation cricket evaluation. The talented technicians at Arrow Exterminators can identify any type of pest and identify the best course of treatment to get rid of it. We’ll create a custom pest control plan to make sure we eliminate every last one from your home and keep them away for good! You can call our trained pest control experts at any time with questions about pest control methods or pest prevention techniques. You can also find us on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ for more pest prevention tips and tricks. Contact Arrow Exterminators and our cricket control experts will get you the help you need right away. Whether it's a private residence, dormitory, hotel or any other type of property. Arrow Exterminators has been eliminating crickets all over Oklahoma since 1952. We know cricket control.