Common Name: House Crickets
Scientific Name: Acheta domesticus (Linnaeus)
The common name comes from the fact that these crickets often enter houses where they can survive indefinitely. Having been introduced form Europe, this species is found throughout the United States but is a pest primarily east of the Rocky Mountains.
Adults about 3/4-7/8″ (18-22 mm) long. Color light yellowish brown with 3 dark cross bands on head. Antennae threadlike, longer than body. Wings lay flat on the back. Cerci long, feeler like. Hind leg tibial spines short, stout, non-movable. Tarsi 3-segmented. Adult female with a long tube like ovipositor (egg laying structure) located at tip of abdomen and between cerci. Nymphs look like adults except smaller, and lack wings and an ovipositor (females).
(1) Field crickets (Gryllus spp.) Lack cross bands on top of head.
(2) Cave/camel/stone crickets (Gryllacrididae) with humpbacked appearance, wingless, antennae touch or almost touch at base, hind femora long.
(3) Jerusalem crickets (Stenopelmatidae) large and robust, wingless, hind femora do not extend beyond tip of abdomen.
(4) Mole crickets (Gryllotalpidae) with front legs broad and spade like, antennae much shorter than body length.
(5) Earwigs (order Dermaptera) with forcepslike cerci.
House crickets typically surface feed, leaving the surface roughened from pulling or picking the fibers loose while feeding. Their feeding sometimes results in an irregular matted network over the surface, or if the infestations heavy, large areas of the fabric may be eaten out. Mandible marks along the chewed edges are often visible but only with magnification. Such marks are much less than 1/32″/1 mm wide, not in pairs, and with little or no tearing. Fecal stains are absent but with fecal pellets on or about the damaged materials. The larger fecal pellets are about 1/16″-1/8″ (2-2.5 mm) long and about 1/32″ (1 mm) wide, with the pellets almost or entirely lacking longitudinal ridges. No hairs are on or about the damaged materials.
Outdoors, the overwintering eggs hatch in late spring and adults appear in late summer, with only 1 generation per year. When raised under ideal conditions, females lay an average of 728 eggs. The nymphs go through 7-8 instars which require an average of about 56 days for males and 53 days for females. Indoors, females deposit an average of 104 eggs (range 40-170) at room temperature, Their eggs are placed singly in crevices, such as behind baseboards and other dark places.
During warm weather, house crickets typically live outdoors and especially in garbage dumps. With the approach of cold weather, they seek sheltered places such as sheds and houses. These crickets are nocturnal or active at night and usually hide in dark warm places during the day. Their presence is indicated by the male’s chirping which is done by rubbing their front wings together. His “calling song” serves to attract females.
Outside, they are often attracted to electric lights in large numbers, sometimes by the thousands, and rest on vertical surfaces such as light poles and house walls. Outside, they feed on plants and dead or live insects, including crickets. They often enter homes seeking moisture. When these crickets enter homes, many kinds of clothing and even carpets can be damaged. Favorite fabrics include wool, cotton, silk, and synthetics (particularly acetate, vicose, and triacetate). Clothes soiled with perspiration are especially attractive to crickets. They eat out large areas of fabrics as opposed to the small holes typical of clothes moths.
Cricket control starts outdoors with the reduction of elimination of moist harborage near the structure by mowing lawns, weeding plant beds, removing woodpiles, etc. Since they are attracted to lights, change outdoor lighting to less-attractive yellow bulbs or sodium vapor lamps. Seal possible points of entry such as around windows and doors, holes in masonry, add doorsweeps, and screen windows, doors, etc. Baits are effective when applied as a band between the structure and peripheral harborage or indoors. Micro encapsulated or wettable powder formulations are particularly effective in the moist areas that crickets prefer. Mechanical removal with a vacuum works well. Crack and crevice treatment of possible entry points may reduce invasion or may be required indoors for established infestations.