Cricket Facts, Identification and Control
Scientific Order: Orthoptera
Family: Gryllidae (true crickets)
House cricket (Acheta domesticus)
Field crickets (subfamily Gryllinae), most commonly the fall field cricket (Gryllus pennsylvanicus)
Camel crickets (family Rhaphidophoridae), most commonly the greenhouse camel cricket (Diestrammena asynamora)
The following information on field and camel crickets will refer to the fall field cricket and greenhouse camel cricket, respectively, as these two species are the most common of those particular cricket families in New York.
Behavior and Diet
House crickets are opportunistic omnivores that seek out and eat the most convenient food sources. They may feed on live, decaying, or dead plants, other living or dead insects (including other crickets), and fabrics.
Like most crickets, house crickets are nocturnal. If you have house crickets in dark and humid areas of your home, however, they may be active more often than they would be outdoors.
House crickets seek out dark, humid and warm locations. Their dietary flexibility gives them the opportunity to thrive in diverse environments, so you could find them just about anywhere, even in highly dense urban locations like NYC. In spring and summer, they prefer to live outside, so they become a pest hazard in autumn when they move into buildings looking for a place to keep warm.
House crickets are particularly attracted to sweaty clothing as both a food source and a means of sheltering in a warm and humid environment.
Field crickets are also omnivores. They commonly eat seeds, flowers, grasses, weeds, and other living or dead invertebrate insects (including other crickets). The prevalence of field crickets in the spring and fall may make them a pest for gardeners, as high concentrations of field crickets may do significant damage to a garden.
Field crickets generally live outside but may attempt to infiltrate homes to stay warm before winter. Unlike house crickets, field crickets can’t survive in a home all winter and will usually die out within weeks of entering. While they’re in a home, however, they may feed on and damage fabrics and other materials.
Like other crickets, field crickets are nocturnal. They’re infamous for chirping loudly to attract mates at night. Their loud chirp often keeps the residents of infested homes awake.
Field crickets are capable of digging burrows for themselves if need be and generally seek out areas with access to soil. They’re also attracted to humid, dark, and warm locations such as behind baseboards, in closets, or under furniture.
Camel crickets are omnivores and scavengers who will eat virtually any organic debris including plants, other insects (including living or dead crickets), fabric, and animal products.
Like field crickets, camel crickets are primarily considered a nuisance pest. They will not inflict considerable damage on your home or property unless they congregate in large numbers. Unlike field crickets and house crickets, camel crickets don’t have wings and thus cannot chirp.
Unlike house and field crickets, camel crickets aren’t attracted to heat or light. Instead, they’re attracted to cool, damp, and dark locations. Outside, they’re commonly found in greenhouses (hence the name), or beneath stones, logs, and other organic debris like ivy. Inside, they’re commonly found in crawl spaces, storage buildings, basements, garages, and other damp rooms such as laundry rooms.
These crickets are infamous for leaping long distances quite rapidly. When threatened, camel crickets will sometimes leap at the threat in an attempt to scare it away. Camel crickets aren’t poisonous and cannot bite humans, however, so they’re not considered dangerous.
Reproduction and Life Cycle
The speed of house cricket reproduction and life cycle depends on the temperature of the breeding and rearing environment. In a humid environment with a temperature of 80-90°F, house crickets complete their entire life cycle in two to three months.
Male house crickets chirp to attract mates. This usually happens at night, which can be a major inconvenience for homeowners who have an infestation. After mating, female house crickets lay eggs repeatedly--a single house cricket can lay over 100 eggs in her lifetime, and can sometimes lay more than 200. House crickets CAN reproduce and lay eggs indoors, so a house cricket infestation can be multi-generational.
Eggs hatch into nymphs after around 14 days. Nymphs resemble smaller versions of adult house crickets, but they don’t initially have wings. Nymphs shed their exoskeleton in a process called molting. They must molt 8 to 10 times before reaching adulthood. The nymph will begin growing wings after about a month.
A house cricket reaches adulthood after its wings are fully developed. Once matured, house crickets immediately begin searching for food and mates.
Field cricket reproductive habits are similar to house crickets. Males chirp (loudly) to attract mates. After mating, the female deposits eggs in moist sand or soil. Field crickets lay eggs in groups of fifty eggs at a time and can lay up to 400 eggs in their lifetime. Unlike house crickets, field crickets don’t regularly lay eggs in homes. They prefer to breed and lay eggs outside in soil.
Eggs incubate in soil for about 15 to 25 days and then hatch into nymphs. Field cricket nymphs eat and grow very rapidly and molt up to 8 times. Field cricket nymphs look very similar to adults.
Field crickets reach adulthood in 8-12 weeks. As with house crickets, mature field crickets are ready to mate immediately upon reaching maturity.
Field crickets may overwinter as eggs or survive by infiltrating homes, though when field crickets end up in homes it’s usually by accident. They become particularly prevalent in late summer, especially after rainy summers and/or dry springs.
Little is known about the reproductive habits and life cycle of the camel cricket. We do know that, like other crickets, they undergo metamorphosis in three stages: eggs, nymphs, and adults. They reproduce sexually, and prefer to breed in cool and dark locations.
Camel crickets generally spend the winter as either nymphs or eggs. Camel cricket nymphs look like smaller versions of adults.
As the soil unthaws in early spring, mature camel crickets dig burrows into it to deposit eggs. These eggs hatch in just a few weeks, and the resulting nymphs usually mature in late spring or early summer.
Camel Crickets usually live longer than house or field crickets. Depending on their environment, they may live up to 2 years. In warm locations, camel crickets can breed all year. Camel crickets will breed indoors, so it’s possible they may lay eggs in your house.
Signs of Infestation
By far the most obvious sign of house cricket infestation is the telltale mating call. The crickets chirp to attract mates at night. Because the volume of the chirp factors into how successful the mating call will be, they tend to chirp loudly.
House crickets are attracted to moist food sources such as sweaty clothing. Look for damage to different types of fabric such as wool, cotton, silk, or synthetic fibers. Unlike moths or other fabric pests, house crickets leave large damage sites behind on the fabric they feed on.
House crickets might also damage gardens or plants outside, especially during the summer. Their feeding won’t be enough to kill healthy, fully grown plants, but they could prevent a young plant from developing fully. If you’re having a hard time getting plants to grow, house crickets could be one reason why.
House crickets lie on flat surfaces in damp, dark areas. If you have a significant infestation, you may begin to notice “frass,” which is dried excrement, building up on these surfaces.
Like house crickets, field crickets chirp at night to attract mates. The field cricket’s chirp is three quick notes, followed by a two-note response from a female.
Field crickets may damage fabrics such as clothing, drapes, wall coverings, or furniture by feeding on it or staining it with their droppings. Like house crickets, field crickets are particularly attracted to damp clothing.
Field crickets die quickly, and their bodies may pile up. If you see an excess of dead crickets in parts of your home or smell the faint odor of decomposition, you may have a field cricket infestation.
Infestation gets more likely in late fall and early winter, when adult field crickets will be looking for shelter to get out of the cold. Look around your basement, crawl spaces, laundry room and any other at-risk room around this time of year.
Camel crickets like to live and reproduce in cool, dark places, usually underneath some form of cover like furniture or shelving. You’ll most likely find them under cover in your basement, crawlspace, or storage room.
Camel crickets don’t chirp like other cricket species, but they’re still attracted to perspiration-stained clothing and other sources of moisture and food.
Camel crickets may be attracted to decomposing garbage or wet recycling. They can chew small holes through garbage bags to get into them and eat the garbage inside.
One way to be sure you have an infestation is to find the egg-laying or breeding area in your home. Look for eggs on flat surfaces or in corners underneath cover. You may also simply see camel crickets running around in basements or moist areas of your home.
Treatment and Prevention
House crickets are attracted to light and heat, particularly from porch lights at night. Don’t keep porch lights on when they’re unnecessary. Definitely don’t leave them on overnight in the summer time. You could also change outdoor lighting to yellow bulbs.
The best way to keep house crickets out is by controlling the humidity of your home. Consider investing in a dehumidifier for particularly at-risk areas (like your basement) and ensure they have proper ventilation.
Keep your lawn well-mowed and move firewood away from the home. Trim hedges, grass, and bushes that touch the property.
Like all pests, house crickets require a means of getting into your home. Look for and seal cracks around the foundation, siding, window and door frames, or utility lines. Use caulk or steel wool to seal off these gaps.
Like house crickets, field crickets are attracted to heat and light. Keep your porch lights off and consider closing your blinds at night, so that field crickets won’t be attracted to light coming from inside your home.
Field crickets like to feed on plants, particularly young plants that are still growing. If you keep an outdoor garden, use screens and fencing to keep field crickets and other pests out. Keep your hedges, bushes, and grasses well-trimmed and away from the border of the home.
Look for areas in your home with exposed soil. Field crickets might be attracted to this soil as a possible site for egg laying. Cover soil and keep it away from openings that field crickets could get through.
Seal cracks and crevices, especially around warm places like kitchens, basements, fireplaces, or behind baseboards. Look around utility lines and window frames, especially if they’re near lighting.
Unlike other common crickets, camel crickets aren’t attracted to heat or light. Instead, they prefer damp, dark, and cool environments. Dehumidifiers can be an effective means of ensuring that at-risk areas of your home are unattractive to camel crickets.
Keep clothing in drawers, wardrobes, or closets, and make sure it’s dry and clean.
Clear or organize clutter in your basement to deprive camel crickets of breeding areas.
Empty your garbage can frequently, and make sure your trash and recycling cans don’t get damp or wet. Keep garbage in sealed plastic bags.
General Cricket Information
Bugguide.net’s “Family Gryllidae - True Crickets” entry
Clemson University Cooperative Extension’s “Camel Crickets” article, by Patricia A. Zungoli and Eric P. Benson
University of Florida Department of Entomology & Nematology’s “Featured Creatures” house crickets entry
Insectidentification.org’s “House Cricket” entry
Encyclopedia of Life’s “House Cricket” entry
Bugguide.net’s “Species Acheta domesticus - House Cricket” entry
Cricketcare.org’s House Cricket life cycle page
University of Florida Department of Entomology & Nematology’s “Featured Creatures” field crickets entry
Insectidentification.org’s “Field Cricket” entry
Encyclopedia of Life’s “Field Cricket” entry
Bugguide.net’s “Subfamily Gryllinae - Field Crickets” entry
Penn State University’s Gryllus pennsylvanicus Field Cricket Species Page, collected in part by Alicia Fitzgerald
Pestworld.org’s “Camel Crickets 101”
Pestworld.org’s “Camel Crickets”
Bugguide.net’s “Family Rhaphidophoridae - Camel Crickets” entry
LiveScience article: “Invasive Camel Crickets Widespread in US Homes”, by Megan Gannon
Pestkilled.com’s “How to Get Rid of Camel Crickets”