by Barb Ogg, PhD, Extension Educator
Have you learned to open and close doors quickly to keep the crickets outside. Is there a chirping cricket hiding somewhere in the house, but you can't find it because it stops chirping when you walk near it. You aren't alone.
Many insects have cycles when their populations increase temporarily in response to favorable conditions and later adjust to more normal levels. Most people think that insect outbreaks are related to weather conditions, but increases in the abundance of food and habitat, or decreases in natural enemies are just as likely to trigger population explosions. The truth is that, with the exception of economic pests, most insects are not well studied and entomologists don't know for sure what conditions trigger insect outbreaks.
It is interesting, and maybe not a coincidence, that when we see abundant populations of crickets, we also see plenty of grasshoppers. Grasshoppers and crickets are closely related insects--both belong to the order Orthoptera. One might think that closely related insects might respond in similar ways to favorable conditions.
How can this help us deal with the problem at hand? First, it is helpful to understand that a certain level of crickets is always present, but may be so low most years that you hardly notice. We all know that cricket chirping is a part of Nebraska life--just think how odd it would be to not have any nighttime noises at all. Okay, you say, but it really drives me nuts when a cricket inside the house keeps me awake at night.
The first step in cricket control is to check around the outside of your home and caulk or repair cracks and other spaces you find that may allow crickets to get inside. Look carefully around your home's foundation, doors and ground-level windows.
You can discourage crickets from entering your home by keeping nearby weeds and grass cut short and by removing piles or stacks of wood, brush, bricks and similar objects that are close to your house. This minimizes their hiding places and reduces the number of crickets that get inside.
If they get inside, don't reach for the aerosol insecticide. You can easily catch crickets by placing sticky glue boards (available at hardware stores, usually for mouse control) in corners of the room. Within a day or two, your crickets will be caught in the glue board.
If you've got a chirping cricket inside the house, pour a small amount of cornmeal in the center of a glue board and place it near where you hear the chirping sound. Within a day or two, you should have gotten your cricket.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in Lancaster County is your on-line insect pest and wildlife educational resource. The information on this Web site is valid for residents of southeastern Nebraska. It may or may not apply in your area. If you live outside southeastern Nebraska, visit your local Extension office