Crickets, Crickets and more Crickets!!

Crickets, Crickets and more Crickets!!
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House Cricket

The chirping cricket is music to some ears (especially those of female crickets), but annoying to others. They become active at night chirping (males only) and feeding on a variety of foods including plants, fruits and vegetables, and other crickets.

Commonly found indoors, the house cricket (Achetadomesticus) is tan in color and up to an inch long. Capable of living and reproducing indoors, house crickets are often found in the warmest parts of the house.

Food

Crickets are omnivores and scavengers feeding on organic materials, as well as decaying plant material, fungi, and seedling plants. They consume human and pet foods, are attracted to fermenting liquids (vinegar, beer, etc.), are common around trash dumps, and occasionally do incidental damage to fabrics.

Habitat

Crickets live under rocks and logs in meadows, pastures and along roadsides. Many are nocturnal. Crickets hide in cracks and voids in the ground, around foundations, in woodpiles, under rocks and debris.

Predators

Spiders, some wasps, ground beetles, birds, small rodents and lizards are among some of the crickets predators.

Impact on the Ecosystem

Positive: Crickets breakdown plant material, renewing soil minerals. They are also an important source of food for other animals.

Negative: Crickets may injure seedlings and large numbers can be destructive. Males songs can be quite loud.

Field Cricket

Field crickets (Gryllus spp.) are larger than house crickets (up to 1 ¼ inches) and are black. They do not reproduce indoors and are most often encountered around foundations, in sheds, garages and gardens. They will damage garden plants, crops and fabrics.

Most house and field cricket home invasions occur in the fall when the insects’ food resources dry up and temperatures drop. Seal foundation cracks and gaps, and install door brushes to prevent crickets from entering gaps beneath doors. Other controls include reducing vegetation, leavers and mulch adjacent around the structure and, in early fall, treating foundation perimeters with residual pesticide liquids and/or cricket baits.

Cave Crickets

A different sort of cricket is the cave or camel cricket (Ceutophilus spp.), named for inhabiting caves and cave-like places such as damp basements and crawlspaces, and for its arched, humpbacked body. Unlike house and field crickets, cave crickets are brown, wingless, and do not chirp. These large, brown crickets have long antennae and spindly legs sometimes described as spider-like.

The Cricket Chirp

The left fore-wing of the male has a thick  rib (a modified vein) which bears 50 to 300 ridges. The chirp (which only male crickets can do) is generated by raising the left hind leg to a 45-degree angle and rubbing it against the edge of the right hind leg, which has a thick scraper (Berenbaum 1995). This sound producing action is called stridulation and the song is species-specific.

There are four types of cricket song: The calling song attracts females and repels other males, and is fairly loud. The courting song is used when a female cricket is near, and is a very quiet song. An aggressive song is triggered by chemo-receptors on the antennae that detect the near presence of another male cricket and a copulatory song is produced for a brief period after successful deposition of sperm on the female’s eggs.

Sticky traps can be used inside doors, especially in garages, to monitor and trap crickets. Moisture control is also important in preventing cricket infestations.

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