Crickets in the House and Garden

Barbara J. Bromley, Mercer County Horticulturist 2004
A cricket on the hearth may be considered good luck, and some oriental cultures even keep crickets in ornate cages to enjoy their chirp. In New Jersey crickets in September and October are generally a pain in the neck. Crickets are close relatives of grasshoppers and katydids. In homes we commonly find field, house, and cave or camel crickets. Tree crickets, such as the pale green snowy tree cricket, are outdoor insects seldom seen in the house.


field cricketField cricket

Adult field crickets are typically black and range in length from ½ to 1 1/8″ long. Nymphs (immatures) are similar except they are smaller, lack wings, and females have no ovipositor. Outdoors they are found in moist areas such as mulched beds, unweeded plant beds and around woodpiles and debris. They are often attracted in large numbers to electric lights. The male’s incessant chirping both day and night indicates their presence. These sounds, created by rubbing the front wings together, attract females.

The common black field cricket can be a harmful household pest in NJ. Items made of cotton, linen, wool, and silk can be damaged. Clothing, especially if stained with perspiration or food, is prone to injury. Field crickets also feed on nylon, plastic fabrics, thin rubber goods, and leather.

Outbreaks of field crickets occur when rainfall follows a period of drought.


house cricketHouse Cricket

House crickets are similar to field crickets, but are ¾ to 1″ long, light yellowish brown with 3 darker brown crossbands on the head. Because they are attracted to warmth, they may be found near the fireplace, kitchen, furnace or water heater.

In warm weather they live outdoors in any manner of hiding place and feed on plants and other insects. With the coming of cold weather they enter homes or sheds. They are nocturnal and start seeking food at dusk. As omnivores, they feed on various foods and fermented liquids, such as beer. Like the field cricket they damage textiles, especially silk and wool and garments damaged by perspiration or food.


cave cricketCamel or Cave Cricket

Camel crickets are named because their strongly humpbacked thorax resembles a camel’s hump. They are ½ to 1 ½” long, do not chirp, and are more closely related to katydids than true crickets. Their color varies from light tan to brown.

Outdoors they are found in leaf litter, in tree holes, under railroad ties, and in other cool moist locations. They generally invade structures when it becomes hot and dry outside. Indoors they become a nuisance in damp basements, crawl spaces, and utility and laundry rooms. They, too, can damage fabrics. They are active at night and hide during the day. They are not attracted to light.


Outdoors, control starts with the elimination or reduction of moist harborage by weeding beds, moving woodpiles, eliminating debris, mowing lawns, etc. Most crickets (not cave or camel crickets) are attracted to lights, so outdoor lighting should be changed to less attractive yellow or sodium vapor lights. Using grout, caulking, or other appropriate materials, seal possible entry points around doors and windows, faucets, dryer vents, and masonry cracks. Replace damaged screens and door sealing strips (doorsweeps).

Periodic applications of an insecticide will help prevent their entry into buildings. These materials are best applied after openings around doors, windows, and foundations are sealed. Outdoor applications include treatment of foundation wall, around cellar windows, along doorsills, and under open porches. Some suitable insecticides include chlorpyrifos (Dursban), permethrin, or diazinon. (Diazinon and Dursban have been phased out. Existing supplies may be used up in accordance with label directions.)

Indoors, just a few crickets can be killed by hitting with a fly swatter or crushing with a shoe. Mechanical removal with a vacuum also works. Glue boards or sticky traps can be used in basements, living areas, sheds, or garages. Place these traps on the floor along walls every five feet or so to snare the crickets. Baits can be used between the building and harborage.

Where crickets are active, move all furniture and other items away from cellar or first floor walls to a distance of a foot or so. Spray the area where the wall joins the floor. There are also pesticides for control that may be effective as a crack and crevice treatment where crickets hide.

Persistent cricket problems may require the services of a pest control operator.

Biological Some predator and parasitic insects: not reliable for good control
Cultural Eliminate moist harborage by moving wood piles, mowing lawns, etc.
Change outdoor lighting to yellow or sodium vapor bulbs
Mechanical/Physical Hit with fly swatter or crush with shoe
Vacuum up
Glue boards or other sticky traps
Seal or screen entry points
Chemical Crack and crevice treatment of labeled pesticide (see text) at baseboards or outdoors along foundations