How To Get Rid Of Crickets: DIY Tips & Contractor Cost Guide
Find out how to get rid of crickets using DIY methods or by hiring a contractor. Check contractor’s prices and get up to 4 free quotes.
There are twenty-seven different species of grasshoppers and crickets in the United States, some harmless but some can devastate our crops and be a nuisance. Today we are going to talk about how to get rid of crickets in general but especially the spider cricket and the cave cricket.
The biology of the cricket
In order to know how to get rid of the cricket within our homes, we will have to understand a bit about their biology and their habits. Once we know this, we can then understand why they are attracted to our homes and crops and maybe understand how to get rid of the ones already in our houses and how to deter them from setting up home near us in the future.
Crickets are insects. They usually have cylindrical bodies and spherical heads with long antennae. Behind the heads, their body is smooth and robust which ends in two long spikes. Additionally the females have an ovipositor (or egg tube). The hind legs have large thighs allowing them to jump. The front wings have adapted to be tough leathery wing covers, while the rear wings are delicate membranes which are folded away when not used for flight. Some species however cannot fly at all. Some crickets make a chirping sound by rubbing the front wings together.
Around the world there are at least 900 species found so far, preferring to live in latitudes below 55° North and South. Different species have adapted to live in many different habitats:
- Beach sand
They are usually nocturnal and are instantly recognisable by the high pitched chirping noise made by the males when attracting mates. Some species however do not make any sound at all.
The chirping sound attracts not only a mate but also a natural predator. The Tachinid fly is attracted to the sound and lays its eggs in the male cricket as a food supply for its larvae.
The various species of cricket have differing skills in flying. Some are good and can fly long distances; others use their wings to provide an elongated jump, while others cannot fly at all.
The cricket eggs hatch in the months of late spring and their larvae will change into an adult by late summer. The adult can live for about ninety days.
Diet: What do crickets eat?
Generally crickets are herbivorous, however when they are deprived of their natural diet, they can eat any organic matter. They usually eat:
- Plant shoots
The species that are mainly omnivorous eat, in addition to the vegetation already mentioned:
- Invertebrate eggs
- Moulting insects
Some species are scavengers and eat decomposing organic matter as well as decaying plants, seedlings, fungi and mould. In general crickets have very powerful jaws and some species even bite humans.
Why do they come
Like all insects and other pests we have in our homes, crickets come in search of food, water, warmth and shelter. They come in search of a welcome environment in which to live and raise their young. They want food for themselves as well as their young and if you supply it then you will have crickets making their homes inside your homes. Because crickets like to eat the same type of food as we do, they are naturally attracted to not only food we leave lying around, but also decomposing food and other organic matter where we haven’t cleaned properly.
What damage and issues do crickets bring
Although not physically a threat to humans, they do not sting or have a venomous bite; they like to eat not only our food but also our belongings. In fact they can eat almost any organic matter, both fresh and decomposing. We talked about what crickets feed on elsewhere so I won’t go into that again, but I will say that their feeding habits can cause devastation to our crops. Severe damage to our homes, furnishings, clothes and belongings. And because they like to feed on decomposing matter, they can spread bacterial infections such as salmonella and E.coli.
The Cave cricket and Spider cricket
Both these cricket species are prevalent throughout much of North America. They like to move into areas surrounding properties such as porches and outbuildings. They love darkness and moisture and feed on the fungus and mould which thrive in that environment. Not only do they like to eat fungus but also thrive on fabric which obviously becomes a great problem in the home unless they are stopped. They also eat dead insects, vegetation in general, moss and algae. In hot summers they like to come indoors into the shade and will make a nest in cool damp corners of your home. They love crawl spaces and basements which should be inspected regularly.
When their population expands, expect them to migrate into the living areas of your home.
When they jump, they will move randomly so are just as likely to move towards you as away from you. This can be disconcerting to see a large hairy insect coming at you but they won’t bite or sting so it’s nothing to worry about.
If their population is left unchecked then they can cause devastation in the home as they like to eat all kinds of both natural and man-made fabrics as well as rugs, upholstery, books, boxes, and in fact just about anything else we have in our homes.
Having these types of cricket in your home are even more of a problem because mice and rats like to feed on them. So if you aren’t careful, you start off with one pest and end up with three infestations.
How to get rid of crickets?
If you notice the damage the cave and spider cricket cause and see their droppings you can be sure that you have an infestation. There are many DIY as well as professional pest control methods. The active ingredient in most cricket poison products available to buy is Boric Acid.
This substance is safe to use around humans and pets but is deadly to insect pests like ants and crickets. Whenever you are buying a pesticide, always read the label to be certain it targets the insect pests you want to be rid of. When you use the poison, always read the label and follow exactly the manufacturer’s instructions.
Cricket glue trap
A favourite is the glue trap. It is simple and relatively easy to deploy. The trap comes flat and can be folded into a triangular tunnel. Cave crickets just love this kind of little shelter and readily crawl inside. The internal walls are lined with glue scented with cricket pheromones. A trap will last two or three months but can be thrown away and replaced sooner if they become filled up.
This is a low odour liquid which is diluted with water and sprayed along foundation walls, around doors and windows, under decks and around sheds. Treat a 5 to 10 foot wide band in these likely places. The amount to use for a typical spray concentrate would be to mix about 8oz. per gallon of water. You can expect to use about 3 gallon of mixture around the average home for the first treatment. Use about 2 gallons every month to prevent the pests from getting out of hand and to prevent them from returning. Use a good quality pump sprayer similar to the type used to spray weed killers and use a wide swath nozzle. A 16oz. bottle of concentrate will cost about $50.
The sprays are ok for outside but what about inside when you have an infestation too large for traps to handle. The answer is to use bait. Each granule looks about the same size as wheat germ and crickets love feeding on it. A 1lb bag of bait will cover up to about 500 square feet and can last up to 2 or 3 months, even where it is damp. You can use the bait under furniture, in closets, crawlspaces, basements and any other potential nesting site. A bait applicator can be bought which will make sure the bait is applied properly without a mess, very useful in living areas. A 1lb bag costs about $20 while a 3lb bag costs $40. The bait applicator costs about $40 each.
If you have a really large infestation and can’t wait for the bait to work on the crickets, you can try dust. Whereas a sprinkling of bait would take about three months or so to work on an infestation, dust will kill the same population in about a week. Being a powder it is also easier to apply into holes and behind skirting boards and other hard to reach cavities. An application of dust will last for about six months or sometimes more and it works faster than bait too. You can buy a 1lb squeezy bottle of dust for $20 whereas a 3lb bottle will cost $50. A 1lb bottle will cover about 1,500 square feet. You can also buy dust applicators at around $60 for a 14oz. squeezy bulb with 12” extension tube.
DIY methods to rid your home of crickets
Like all insect pests, crickets will only enter your home if the conditions give them food or shelter and they can only enter if there are openings for them to get in. There are a few simple rules to help prevent infestations and if you follow them diligently you will find that crickets will stay clear of your home.
1. Cracks. Caulk and seal all entry points likely to appeal to an insect. This includes cracks in the foundation walls and gaps around doors and windows. Don’t forget holes in the walls where pipes enter the house.
2. Clear the weeds. Systematically work your way around the house, removing grass and weeds from the foundation and perimeter wall. Replace organic mulch with clean pebbles.
3. Compost heaps. Crickets love to eat decomposing vegetable matter, and there is nowhere quite like a compost heap for providing a ready supply of decomposing vegetation. Store your compost at the other end of your garden as far away from the house as possible. This will not only tend to keep the insects away from the house but will also prevent any smell from disturbing your hot summer day entertaining on the deck.
4. Garden vegetation. Keep as much of your garden vegetation as possible trimmed short. Crickets build their nests in long grass and other vegetation so if you keep the grass mowed, they will find it harder to lay their eggs.
5. Fruit and vegetables. Garden vegetation not only provides nesting sites, it also provides food for the crickets. They will eat a variety of food crops as well as flowers and grass. It is relatively ok if the cricket snacks on your prize dahlias while outside, but you don’t want them to hitchhike indoors on cut flowers and other produce. Wash all produce with a hose sprinkler before bringing it indoors to remove any unwanted guests.
6. Firewood. Move your log pile away from the house as well as any organic debris such as compost heaps or leaf piles. Crickets will firstly make their home in these areas and then naturally spread into your home.
7. Trash cans. Set up bricks outside to use as stands for your trash cans. This will keep them away from the ground and remove some of the places where crickets love to hide.
8. Kitchen waste bins. Not everyone has a mechanical waste disposal unit in their kitchen. Some people use a flip top pedal bin. Make sure they are emptied regularly and washed with bleach. Always ensure the waste bin is covered when not being used.
9. Mops and brooms. If you don’t clean your mops and brooms thoroughly after use you run the risk of leaving decomposing food particles attached to the bristles and strings. Always clean these household tools after use and if possible disinfect using diluted bleach.
10. Remove clutter. Systematically search your home indoors for places where crickets like to hide. Remove piles of newspapers and remove clutter.
11. Dirty dishes. As we have said before, crickets will eat most types of organic matter, both fresh and decomposing. If you leave dirty plates and dishes lying in the kitchen sink you will attract all manner of hungry pests including crickets. Ensure you wash and put away all plates, dishes and crockery as soon as your meal is finished or load them tidily away in the dishwasher.
12. Screens. Fit tightly fitting insect screens on your doors and windows. Fit weather strips to the bottom of doors to maintain a seal against the floor.
13. Damp areas indoors. Crickets (as well as other insect pests) are attracted to damp areas within our homes. Search the house and find any areas with moisture, damp or fungus and mould. Dry the with a dehumidifier and find out what has caused the presence of water. If it is a pipe leak then repair it, if it is damp coming in from outside then block up the hole and waterproof it.
That has hopefully stopped new crickets from taking up residence but how about the insects which are already there?
1. Molasses trap. Take a large bowl and place a few tablespoons of molasses into the bottom. Fill the remains of the bowl with hot water to dissolve the molasses. Allow to cool. The crickets will smell the molasses, jump into the water and drown. If you haven’t got any molasses then maple syrup or sugar will do the same job.
2. Other traps. Place traps around problem areas such as doors, windows and along skirting boards. Crickets like warm and moist areas so concentrate your traps in these areas. Use a jar or container with slippery sides or with a lid that you can make a hole through. Fill the container half full with warm sweet water and add a squirt of lemon scented dishwashing detergent. The crickets will be attracted to the sugar and lemon, fall in the soapy water and drown.
3. Vacuum cleaner. Clean the room using a high powered vacuum cleaner. The turbulent air will dislodge cricket egg clusters. Don’t forget to use the nozzle to clean in corners, around holes and under furniture.
4. Empty the trash. Crickets are attracted to the smell of decomposing organic matter so empty your kitchen trash bin regularly and keep the bin covered when not being used.
5. Predators. Spiders and lizards are two of a cricket’s natural predators. Allow them into your home and you won’t have to worry about the cricket population getting out of hand. Be warned that scorpions also prey on crickets, so don’t encourage those.
6. Soapy water. Using a spray bottle containing a couple of squirts of dishwashing detergent mixed with water; go around your house spraying into all the nooks and crannies. The detergent irritates insects’ skin and will help deter them from moving in.
7. Spices. You can make a spicy spray to keep the crickets away. Steep a half cup of red chilies, some red chili powder or some chili sauce in two cups of water. Spray the liquid over our plants to stop the crickets from feeding or spray over the insects themselves.
8. Diatomaceous earth. Use food grade diatomaceous earth to deter crickets. The fine powder damages their skin.
9. Certain plants. Nitrogen fixing plants such as clover, peas, beans and sweet peas irritate crickets and repel them. Certain weeds like wormwood also repel crickets and other insects so are found to be extremely useful.
10. Predatory insects and parasites. Introduce a colony of Larra Wasps or nematode worms into your garden. They will prey on the crickets.
11. Birds and pets. Several species of birds are insectivorous and should be encouraged into your garden with feeders supplying mealworms and other dried insects sold in garden centres. Likewise your pet cat will like to hunt and eat the crickets. Introduce geckos into your house to prey on the crickets.
12. Debris. Keep your house tidy, inside and outside, and do not allow any debris to accumulate in surface drains, rooftops or guttering.
Professional pest controllers
If you don’t want to do the job yourself or if the infestation is just too large for you to have any effect, call in the pest control professionals who will be very happy to take on the job.
One of the advantages of hiring a professional pest controller is that when they do their initial inspection, they will be able to tell straight away if you have any other pest infestations such as ants, cockroaches, mice or rats. All household pests are attracted to our homes for the same reasons:
Once they arrive and find the place welcoming, they will very soon settle down and start raising a family. You need to be rid of them before it gets to this point so an early call to the pest control guys is well worth the cost.
If you have never had a pest problem in your home before then there is no reason why you cannot call in a professional for a one-time treatment. The professional will visit your home and straight away conduct an initial survey. They will already know what types of pests are active at this time of year and you will probably already have told them that you have seen signs of a cricket infestation. They will initially look for signs of infestation in their favourite hiding places. The survey will also identify potential places where the crickets might be coming indoors. He will also be on the look-out for other pests as well and can advise if any more seem to be present.
Individual crickets in your house is not really something to worry about, the trouble comes when the individuals decide to make a nest. It is then when you need a professional to visit and report on whether you have an infestation or not.
Even if your professional decides you have an infestation, don’t take their word for it, especially if you can’t see any of the obvious signs. Get a second opinion as unfortunately there are unscrupulous contractors around who may try to take advantage of you.
As with all things, it isn’t worth just treating the symptoms, you must always treat the cause as well. A professional will be able to tell why you have an infestation, what has caused it and how to go about getting rid of it.
A thorough inspection should be a part of the contractor’s estimate. So be aware that unless the pest extermination professional charges for his estimates, and that is a very unusual thing to do, he will be giving you a free inspection too. A thorough inspection can take a long time and the contractor is in business to make money, so what companies sometimes do is to charge you for the inspection and then credit you with the cost of the inspection if you eventually choose their services. This is an acceptable business practice and prevents the customer from getting a free report to do the extermination job themselves.
When you have received your contractor’s estimate, do not choose the least expensive option. Good exterminators have a wealth of knowledge which has been accumulated over many years working and training. Good exterminators will charge for their knowledge so even if the estimate is a few dollars more than the others, you can be sure that their work will be good. The best overall service is the option you should be aiming for, not the cheapest estimate.
The inspection report will include:
- A step by step explanation of whereabouts on your property the inspection took place.
- The pests, if any, which were found on your property.
- Whether the evidence was live pests, droppings, damage, or corpses. Photographs would be useful for this.
- The overall condition of your buildings, any outbuildings and the garden.
- Any changes that the customer could do to reduce the pest problem.
- Any recommendations by the professional as to what his solution will be.
- The proposed extermination plan and timescale.
- The chemicals to be used.
- Include the hazardous chemical data sheets relevant to the chemicals to be used.
- Which safety procedures are advised? Perhaps keeping pets away from certain areas for a set number of days?
- The likely time spent by the exterminator on your property.
- How long before you are likely to see an improvement.
- For how long will the pesticide application be effective?
- The qualifications and licenses held by the exterminator.
- Which poisons do his qualifications allow him to handle.
In addition to the report there will also be a separate document detailing:
- The cost to the customer for carrying out the work. Whether a regular maintenance contract would be worthwhile, why would it be worthwhile and how much would such a contract cost.
- The cash credit for the report to be offset against the final invoice.
- When would full payment be due? (Apart from the cost of the report, do not pay any monies up-front).
There are a number of factors which can vary the cost of the pest extermination job. The factors with the most effect being location in the country, the size of the infestation and the type of pest or pests. Remember that the crickets will be in your house because they have found food, water and warmth. Unfortunately crickets are not the only pest that requires these resources and if conditions are right for crickets, they will be right for many other pests, both insect and rodent.
These and the other factors can be summarised as follows:
Where in the country do you live? The climate zone as well as the state will have a lot to do with the cost you are charged. In areas where pests are common, there will be more exterminators trying to win business, so more discounts will be available. Another location factor is that of supply and demand. If there is a lot of work available then contractors will be free to choose the best jobs in preference to poorly paying work.
Month of the year. Different pests will be active at different times of the year. Different eradication solutions will be needed depending on the temperature, food availability, breeding times, and whether the larvae or the adults are active.
What other pests are present? Although this article is mainly talking about cricket infestations, there may be other insect or rodent pests present, attracted by the same food source and shelter.
How are the pests to be removed? The type of pesticide and its manner of application will affect the cost as well as the amount used. Habitat clearing and alterations may affect the price depending on whether the pest contractor, a general contractor, handyman or yourself does the work.
Accessibility. How accessible will the nests and the insects be? If specialist equipment is needed to access the locations then the price will rise.
Repair & renovations. Crickets are renowned for eating just about anything. They will therefore cause quite a lot of damage around your home and possessions. The cost of replacing damaged possessions or damage to the structure of your house will have to be accounted for.
The following tables summarise the costs associated with purchasing the readily available pesticides for DIY use and the costs incurred with hiring a pest eradication company to deal with your cricket problem.
|DIY Poisons & Applicators|
|Purchase||Size of container||Cost|
|One Time Pest Removal Visit|
|Job||National Average||Range||Low End||High End|
|Hire a pest control contractor||$175||$110 to $270||$50||$500|
|Regular Periodic Pest Eradication Contract|
|Initial visit||Monthly visit||Bi-monthly visit||Quarterly visit|
|$180 to $200||$40 to $50||$50 to $60||$100 to $300|
The contractor prices are based on an average home with a floor area of about 1,500 square feet. Costs for larger properties will either be calculated on a pro-rata basis or subject to a standard fixed extra fee such as $25 for an extra 1,000 square feet over and above the base price.
Remember that these costs can be significantly higher depending on the size of infestation and if you have more pests as well as the crickets.
The cost for a ‘one time pest removal visit’ is higher than would be expected when compared to the maintenance contract because the contractor:
- Is making it more attractive to hire the pest eradication company on a long term contract.
- Has to identify all entry points and nesting sites.
- Identify all the pests involved in the infestation.
Pros and cons: DIY vs contractor
As with all jobs around the home, there are advantages and disadvantages of calling in a contractor or making it a DIY project. The primary reason for hiring a contractor is if you have a cricket infestation. If your house is infested then you must ask the question “why?”
Usually crickets, as with all insect pests, come indoors either by accident (in which case you haven’t got an infestation) or come in attracted to food, water and shelter. If the crickets have found their way in and are nesting then they have a found an ample food supply. It is then up to you to find out if they are attracted to our food or to decomposing organic material. Either way, you have to do something about it. You must find and treat the cause, and the symptoms will take care of themselves. This all comes down to the standard of cleanliness in your home.
Are you leaving good food lying about, free for the taking? If you are then start learning to put things away into sealed glass, plastic or metal containers. Cardboard and paper containers are no good because the crickets will just add those to their meal.
Are you not clearing up after yourself? Most insect pests think that dirty dinner plates left in the sink are a banquet.
Educate yourself and your family. Get into the habit of clearing up after every meal. Sweep or vacuum the floor to remove any food crumbs.
Vacuum the nooks and crannies around your house using a nozzle so you can reach into the tiniest spaces.
If you have a cricket infestation then you will probably have infestations of other insect species attracted by the same food source or an infestation of predators attracted by the multitudes of insects. At first glance this may not seem to be a bad option, but if I say that the predators may be rats and mice, then you will understand that they need to be rid of as well.
If the crickets have come indoors looking for food and a nesting site then there must be a place in your house sufficiently grubby and undisturbed to provide a welcome home to these pests. Crawl spaces and basements provide the perfect environments for crickets but you must also not forget inside wall cavities, behind light fixtures and other similar places.
So the first thing that your DIY cricket eradication project needs to consider is how to clean up your home sufficiently so that crickets do not feel welcomed.
- Vacuum holes, cracks and cavities.
- Pull out furniture and kitchen appliances when you clean.
- Clean the tiny cracks and crevices that are so attractive to insects.
- Clean up food debris that insects love.
These are only a few of the items you will see on your inspection report. Surely you don’t need a pest exterminator to tell you how to clean up your house?
- Make it a habit for your family to keep a look out for the signs of cricket infestation (and other pests too).
- Learn to spot their droppings.
- Learn to see if the crickets have been eating any books or clothing.
The main advantages for looking out for infestations yourself are:
- You can create an on-going environment that repels crickets.
- You can incorporate the “look out procedures” into your daily household cleaning chores.
- You will be able to deal with individual cases as they become apparent and not wait for them to get out of hand.
- You can buy plenty of cricket poisons from garden centres and supermarkets. What is so good is that if they are based on boric acid then, apart from irritation, they are harmless to humans and pets. (Always read and obey the instructions on the container).
- You won’t have to pay out for the labour of a pest control guy.
The advantages of hiring a professional pest control company rather than doing the job yourself are:
- You don’t need to know any specialised knowledge regarding insect habits, diets and habitats.
- You don’t need to know anything about poisons.
- You don’t need any specialist training to link cricket habitats with other pests.
- The specialist will know what insect is likely to be around at which time of year.
- The specialist will be able to identify the presence of other pests as well as crickets.
- There will be an independent pair of eyes to highlight problems with your home, which are attracting crickets in the first place.
- Even though you may think you have a lot of crickets in your house, the professional will know if you have an infestation or not.
- The pest control guy will make out a plan of action detailing the best way to treat an infestation and the best ways to prevent it reoccurring.
- The specialist will have knowledge and training in using more effective chemicals than are available for the average person.
- They will have training in the methods of introducing predatory animals to control the infestation, such as nematodes, wasps and other natural predators.
- The licensed professional is able to safely choose and use poisons where children and pets are present.
No matter how good we are at keeping our house clean and keeping an eye out for cricket damage, we will never catch them all. A professional knows their habits well enough to be able to clear the premises.
The professional will know if there is a larger infestation of crickets across the neighbourhood rather than just in your house. The method of treating them may be different.
The licensed contractor will have the appropriate insurance to cover any damage done to your property or other people.
A licensed pest control company will know how to develop an individual plan specific to your problem and will be able to identify and control those pests that live and feed on your property. The bespoke plan will take into account your own personal circumstances and the layout and condition of your house and garden. The plan will state the most appropriate methods to control the infestation and the ways to reduce the chances of any future infestations.
The pest control expert will be able to advise you on the use of methods you may not have thought about such as insect screens, blocking outside cracks and holes in your walls and reducing the accessibility of you home to insects in general.
You will be given advice on modifying your home to provide an environment less attractive to crickets and insects in general.
We have said many times that the presence of crickets in your home does not necessarily mean you have an infestation. They may have just accidentally jumped in from outside. You can learn the signs that show that you have an infestation. If you decide you haven’t got an infestation then there are many simple methods you can buy to get rid of your unwanted guests. If you have too many to handle then you may want to call in a licenced professional who will do the job for you. We talked about the advantages and disadvantages of doing the job yourself and of calling in a professional. Both methods of eradication are good, it just depends on the scale of your cricket infestation.