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Pest: Crickets

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Pest: Crickets


(family Gryllidae)








Crickets have relatively powerful jaws, and several species have been known to bite humans. Although they can bite, it is rare for a cricket’s mouthparts to actually puncture the skin. Crickets do carry a significant number of diseases which, although having the ability to cause painful sores, are not fatal to humans. These numerous diseases can be spread through their bite, physical contact or their feces.




Special Species Notes


Cricket is derived from “creket” in Middle English which was originally came from “crequet” in Old French. It’s thought to be onomatopoeic, which means that the name resembles the sound by these animals. A group of crickets is called an orchestra.


Crickets are one of the most common insects. They break down cellulose-rich plant materials into feces that are easily digested by bacteria and fungi, enhancing energy and nutrient flows in the ecosystem. They also consume the seeds of many weed species.


Crickets diverged from other Orthopterans in the Triassic period about 250–200 million years ago. They continued this divergence through the Triassic and Jurassic periods about 200–145 million years ago. There are approximately 2,400 species of leaping insects (order Orthoptera) that are worldwide in distribution and known for the musical chirping of the male. They are from the family Gryllidae. There are more than 900 species of crickets worldwide. They are related to bush crickets and somewhat more loosely related to grasshoppers. About one hundred of cricket species can be found in the United States. The black field crickets are the most common variety in the United States.



There are trillions of crickets that exist at any one time in the world.  They are on every continent except Antarctica, and distributed all around the world except at latitudes 55° or higher. Their greatest diversity being in the tropics. Habitats from grassland, bushes, and forests to marshes, beaches, and caves. Crickets usually live in logs founds in meadows, under rocks, along roadsides and in pastures. Most cricket species live on the ground, however some reside underground, in trees or within caves.



Crickets are best known for the loud, persistent, chirping song of males trying to attract females, although some species are mute. The singing species have good hearing, via the tympani (eardrums) on the tibiae of the front legs. For the most part, crickets are semi-solitary (or “subsocial”) insects. Unlike ants or bees, crickets tend to live mostly solitary lives and will fight one another when in close quarters.



Crickets are relatively defenseless, soft-bodied insects. Most species are nocturnal. They use camouflage, fleeing, and aggression.  Some species have adopted colorings, shapes, and patterns that make it difficult for predators that hunt by sight to detect them. They tend to be dull shades of brown, gray, and green that blend into their background, and desert species tend to be pale. Some species can fly, but the mode of flight tends to be clumsy, so the most usual response to danger is to scuttle away to find a hiding place.







Field cricket






Crickets are small to medium-sized insects with mostly cylindrical, somewhat vertically flattened bodies. They have six legs. Their hind legs are modified for jumping, three-jointed tarsal (foot) segments, and two slender abdominal sensory appendages (called cerci). Their back legs are the strong, as they are used to launch the cricket into the air and travel a far distance. The abdomen ends in a pair of long spikes. The head is spherical with long slender antennae arising from cone-shaped scapes (first segments) and just behind these are two large compound eyes. On the forehead are three simple eyes. The pronotum is trapezoidal in shape, robust, and well-sclerotinized. It is smooth and has neither dorsal or lateral keels (ridges). The two forewings are stiff and leathery, and the two long, membranous hind wings are used in flying.


For some species their wings are too small to allow them to fly. The male cricket uses his wings to make a chirping song instead, and the wings also act as amplifiers. Male crickets produce musical chirping sounds by rubbing a scraper located on one forewing along a row of about 50 to 250 teeth on the opposite forewing. The frequency of the chirps depends on the number of teeth struck per second and varies from 1,500 cycles per second in the largest cricket species to nearly 10,000 cycles per second in the smallest. The most common cricket songs are the calling song, which attracts the female; the courtship, or mating, song, which induces the female to copulate; and the fighting chirp, which repels other males. Both sexes have highly sensitive organs on the forelegs for sound reception. There is a direct relationship between the rate of cricket chirps and temperature, with the rate increasing with increasing temperature.


Females have a long, cylindrical ovipositor. The hind legs have enlarged femora (thighs), providing power for jumping. The front wings are adapted as tough, leathery wing covers, and some crickets chirp by rubbing parts of these together. The hind wings are membranous and folded when not in use for flight; many species, however, are flightless.


Crickets can be brown, black, green, or red in color. Crickets are usually 1 to 2 inches long , but can be length from 3 to 50 mm (0.12 to 2 inches), depending on the particular species. The common house cricket is around a half-inch in length while the field cricket is about one inch in length. Crickets range in weight but adults usually average between 0.2 to 0.8 grams, depending on the species. The largest members of the family are the bull crickets, Brachytrupes, which are up to 5 cm (2 in) long.


They spend the day hidden in cracks, under bark, inside curling leaves, under stones or fallen logs, in leaf litter, or in the cracks in the ground that develop in dry weather. Some excavate their own shallow holes in rotting wood or underground and fold in their antennae to conceal their presence. Some of these burrows are temporary shelters, used for a single day, but others serve as more permanent residences and places for mating and laying eggs. Crickets burrow by loosening the soil with the mandibles. They like to burrow into the undergrowth of wooded areas, where there's plenty of food as well as shelter from predators.








Common Species:



Tree- and bush-inhabiting crickets usually sing at night, whereas weed-inhabiting crickets sing both day and night.


Tree crickets are white or green in color and have transparent wings. Although tree crickets are beneficial to humans because they prey on aphids, the female injures twigs during egg placement. The song of most tree crickets is a long trill.


House and field Crickets have a stout-body, black or brown, and often dig shallow burrows. The house cricket, is a native of Africa which has spread to Europe then introduced to North America. They have a light-colored head with dark cross bands and may be found in buildings and refuse heaps. Widely distributed, house and field crickets chirp day and night. They may feed on plants, animals, clothes, and each other. The field cricket (also called the black cricket) is common in fields and yards and sometimes enters buildings. They are used as fish bait in some countries and are also used in biology laboratories. The house cricket is a good flier. Field crickets are omnivorous and eat other insects, dried organic matter, vegetation, small fruits and seeds.


house-cricket.jpghcricketmf.jpg  cricketfield.jpg



Bush-crickets (Tettigoniidae): some can fly. mostly eat animal matter, but they do eat vegetable matter as well.






Cave Crickets (Rhaphidophoridae)


Sword-bearing, or winged bush, crickets are 4 to 9 mm long and brown and possess a sword-shaped ovipositor. They are characteristically found in bushes near a pond.


Wingless bush crickets are generally found on bushes or under debris in sandy tropical areas near water. They are slender crickets, 5 to 13 mm long, wingless or with small wings, and are covered with translucent scales that rub off easily.


The striped ground cricket (Nemobius vittatus) has three dark stripes on its abdomen.


The snowy tree cricket is popularly known as the thermometer cricket because the approximate temperature (Fahrenheit) can be estimated by counting the number of chirps in 15 seconds and adding 40.


Jerusalem Cricket (Stenopelmatus fuscus). Adults are 30-50mm long, with a humped-back and long antennae. They are wingless and have shiny brown bodies with dark brown bands on abdomen. They eat other insects, plant roots, decaying vegetation, and potato tubers. They are not poisonous and harmless although they may bite if handled roughly. Jerusalem Cricket live on hill-sides, valley slopes and under rocks from Nebraska to New Mexico & Mexico, north along the pacific coast to Washington and east to Montana.




Ground crickets approximately 12 mm long, are commonly found in pastures and wooded areas. Their song is a series of soft, high-pitched trills.


Ant-loving crickets are 3 to 5 mm long, wingless, and humpbacked. They live in ant nests. They approaches ants and shows off some funky dance moves. While the reason is unknown, the motions make the ant drop food, which the cricket willingly takes.


Mole crickets get their name from their habitat style. Mole cricket eats roots. lays around 300 eggs underground and the nymphs when they hatch eat plant roots and insect grubs. They are hideous and light brown, with fat, segmented bodies. They have wings as well as hand-like claws on their front legs. Mole crickets don’t have any natural predators in the US. They are an invasive species, having been brought to the country on transport ships. the closest predator for them we have is a parasitic wasp.


pest_mole_crickets09.jpg  mole-cricket.jpg

Mole cricket


Cameo crickets also known as hump-back crickets due to its' hump-back appearance. Camel crickets are light to dark brown, about 1/2 -1 1/2 inch long. They are not true crickets since they do not have wings.Their diet is almost anything but camel crickets will feed on clothes. Camel Crickets are most often are found in crawl spaces and basements, but also like any cool and damp area like under logs or stones.





What they eat:



A cricket will eat just about anything. They are omnivores (they eat plants and meat, like us), and primarily scavengers. They consume fungi, decaying plants,  parts of dead animals and, on rare occasions, dead or injured crickets. They prefer rotting plant matter, but they will also munch on tender leaves, fungi and fruit when the opportunity presents itself. Crickets eat their own body weight in food daily.


Crickets use their antennae, called feelers, to help with the discovery of food and detect the movement of prey. Some species of crickets are more predatory and can be a welcome addition to gardens as they eat insects that destroy plants such as the eggs, larvae, pupae, molting insects like scale insects, aphids and ants. A colony of crickets that have run out of food may even turn on weaker members in an act of cannibalism.


Earthworms, they will eat chicken, beef (scrape-meat off of a leg etc)


Field crickets are known for eating grasshopper eggs and the pupae of butterflies, moths and flies.


Some species are completely herbivorous, decaying plants matter, feeding on flowers, fruit, and leaves, with ground-based species consuming seedlings, grasses, pieces of leaf, fruit, and the shoots of young plants.



If one finds its way into your house, they also eat cotton, paper, wool, silk, nylon, rubber and leather, although in captivity, they can be raised on dry pet food.


Host plants:


seeds and seedlings some examples


lettuce, cabbage, cannabis, carrots, potato,  fruits like apples, banana, orange and grains like cereals and bread.


crabgrass, ragweed, and chicory


Rice:  Mole crickets occur in all rice environments. They are more common in non-flooded upland fields with moist soil. In flooded rice fields, mole crickets are usually seen swimming in the water. They are also found in permanent burrows or foraging-galleries in levees or field borders. The entrances to burrows in the soil are marked by heaps of soil.


though not a plant, they will eat dog and cat food.


First signs:


– Presence of crickets or grasshoppers

– Tunnels or mounds in ground
– Presence of other mammals

– Cricket chirping sounds they make at night.

Feeding damage
– Brown blemishes on plants
– Seedling -poor growth, damage, missing, dead, Cut seedlings at base
–Loss of plant stand

–Missing plants

–Damaged roots




Insects with chewing mouthparts, for example, grasshoppers, caterpillars, and beetles, cause feeding damage such as holes or notches in foliage and other plant parts, leaf skeletonizing (removal of tissue between the leaf veins), leaf defoliation, cutting plants off at the soil surface, or consumption of roots. field crickets and mole crickets are a particularly damaging pest to cannabis plants.


Crickets will eat holes out of your cannabis leaves (or tunnel under your plants in the case of mole crickets). If it's just one or two crickets you may not notice any symptoms but if your plants start getting infested with them you'll noticed tons of spots where they have been munching on your leaves. If an infestation gets out of hand your plants can be seriously affected



You will know it’s a field cricket by its brown or black color and between one and 1.5 inch-long body.


Mole crickets feed during the night and generally live below ground. Like moles, they create mounds of dirt where they live underground. Mole crickets feed on seeds and roots.  They can cut plants at the base resulting to loss of plant stand. Their mounds can attract animals like raccoons, armadillos, birds, rats, skunks, and foxes. These animals dig in search of a tasty mole cricket, and damage your plants in the process.




Damage symptoms are similar to ant damage, specifically loss of plant stand and missing plants. To confirm mole cricket infestation, check for presence of tan nymphs in tunnels on soil near the roots. The nymphs feed on roots and damage the crops in patches.





They can also cause injury to plants when they lay eggs (oviposit) into plant tissue. Heavy oviposition into stems can cause death or dieback of stems or branches on the plant. Dieback of the ends of stems or branches is often called flagging.







Life cycle


Most crickets live between 30 and 90 days.  If they're lucky and don't get eaten they can live for about one year.


Crickets mating season beginning in late spring and ending in early fall. The male perform a mating dance that can last from a few minutes to hours long and performs a unique mating chirp. Temperature can effect a cricket’s chirp – when it is warmer, for example, the chirp is generally quicker. Only male crickets chirp


Male crickets establish their dominance over each other by aggression. They start by lashing each other with their antennae and flaring their mandibles. Unless one retreats at this stage, they resort to grappling, at the same time each emitting calls that are quite unlike those uttered in other circumstances. When one achieves dominance, it sings loudly, while the loser remains silent.


Females are generally attracted to males by their calls, though in non-stridulatory species, some other mechanism must be involved. After the pair has made antennal contact, a courtship period may occur during which the character of the call changes. they mate, depending on the species for a few minutes to a hour. There reproductive pattern is polyandry. This sexual selective pattern increases the overall fitness of the species and promotes genetic variation. The females select and mate with multiple viable sperm donors and store sperm from multiple males and exhibit a distinct preference for novel mates. Male crickets will defend their mates, even risking their own lives to protect a female carrying his eggs.


There are three stages of development: egg, nymph and adult


The female then lays her eggs in soil, one-at-a-time, or in small groups within plant stem that sometimes causing serious plant damage. The female crickets have a long, needle-like egg-laying organ called an ovipositor. She may lay anywhere from a dozen up to a couple hundred eggs. 


Some ground-dwelling species either deposit their eggs in an underground chamber or pushing them into the wall of a burrow.



When spring arrives or after about two weeks, the egg hatches. The nymphs will emerge look like a small adult about the size of a fruit fly. Most species of young crickets are on their own to survive. However, certain species of crickets, like the burrowing cricket will care for its young for a few days to a month after hatching. The short-tailed cricket (Anurogryllus) excavates a burrow with chambers and a defecating area, lays its eggs in a pile on a chamber floor, and after the eggs have hatched, feeds the juveniles for about a month.


 The nymph passes through about 10 larval stages. They molt 6 to 12 times with each successive molt, it grows and becomes more like an adult. After the final molt, the genitalia and wings are fully developed, but a period of maturation is needed before the cricket is ready to breed. Once they are able to reproduce, the cycle repeats.




What to do For preventative use


The best way to prevent a cricket infestation or any bug infestation, is to catch them as soon as possible. They come out at night, so it's a good idea to keep an eye out in the evenings. 


When the outside air temperature begins to drop, crickets begin to look for a place to shelter from the winter weather and it’s then that you’ll find them moving into buildings and properties where they have everything they require: food, warmth, moisture and shelter. They are scavengers and their diet consists primarily of organic materials and may also include decaying plant matter and small seedlings. Once they begin to occupy a property, they may damage clothing, fabric (cotton, wool, silk, & synthetic blends), furniture coverings, curtains and even wallpaper.


Make sure to clean your yard and get rid of unnecessary leaf litter, mulch, etc. Crickets can also be attracted to garbage so seal your garbage can up tight.

keep weeds away


Avoid leaving lights on at night.  Crickets are attracted to light, so anything that lures them can be even more effective if you combine the trap with a light source.

Cricket bait or traps can be used to lure crickets and capture them. Sometimes they are very effective. Although this won't get rid of an infestation, it can really help cut down on the numbers of crickets, making your other methods more effective. One of the cool things about this is that it doesn't have any poison or insecticide, it's just luring crickets and trapping them. ( when I catch them, they become hen treats)


Floating row covers: These may not be the best choice for all cannabis growers, but these are very cheap and effective against crickets because it physically prevents them from getting to your plants, while still letting light in to your plants. You can water your plants through the netting. However, these are much easier to use and are more effective with smaller plants, as it becomes difficult to fully cover larger plants. However, for young plants these can be great. They also protect your plant from wind and some harsh conditions.


Crickets have many natural enemies and are subject to various pathogens and parasites. They are eaten by large numbers of vertebrate and invertebrate predators.




Fatty acid salts or insecticidal soaps can be a good choice against crickets. They weaken the outer shell of crickets. They are safe to use on your plants and they don't leave much of a residue which could kill beneficial bugs in your garden.


With soaps, coverage is very important as it does not stay on your plant for long, so follow-up applications may be necessary. Although this is considered safe, avoid getting any on your flowers. In the case of mole crickets that are tunneling under your plant, also apply this to the ground.



Essentria IC3 is a mix of various horticultural oils that is organic and safe for humans. It is often marketed as a "bed bug killer" but it can be effective against crickets when the plants are treated regularly. Unfortunately it only stays effective on the plant for about 8 hours so you will want to either apply this daily or combine with other options.


Pyrethrin based insecticides are not very toxic for humans and degrade quickly, which is why they're commonly recommended for vegetable gardens.



Biological control


Mediterranean house geckos have learned that although a calling  decorated cricket female crickets attracted to the call can be intercepted and eaten.

Spinosad products are organic and completely harmless to pets, children, and plants. Spinosad products can be used directly to kill crickets on contact and should be sprayed liberally all over the plant. Although maybe not as strong against pests as some of the more harsh insecticides, Spinosad is an organic insecticide made from the fermentation of a specific soil bacteria (actinomycete Saccharopolyspora spinosa) and kills crickets via ingestion or contact by effecting the insect's nervous system. Spinosad can be a good choice for organic and outdoor growers, because it is very toxic to grasshoppers , but is less toxic to many beneficial insects, bug predators and spiders.

Note: Most spinosad products are effective for only about 24 hours after being mixed with water, so only mix as much as you will need per application. Anything left over will be waste. 


entomopathogenic fungus Metarhizium anisopliae attacks and kills crickets and has been used as the basis of control in pest populations.


cricket paralysis virus, Rickettsia and three further viruses, which has caused high levels of fatalities in cricket-rearing facilities. The diseases may spread more rapidly if the crickets become cannibalistic and eat the corpses.


Red parasitic mites sometimes attach themselves to the dorsal region of crickets and may greatly affect them.


horsehair worm Paragordius varius is an internal parasite and can control the behavior of its cricket host and cause it to enter water, where the parasite continues its lifecycle and the cricket likely drowns.



sarcophagid fly Sarcophaga kellyi develop inside the body cavity of field crickets.


Female parasitic wasps of Rhopalosoma lay their eggs on crickets, and their developing larvae gradually devour their host.


wasps in the family Scelionidae are egg parasitoids, seeking out batches of eggs laid by crickets in plant tissues in which to insert their eggs.


The fly Ormia ochracea has very acute hearing and targets calling male crickets. It locates its prey by ear and then lays its eggs nearby. The developing larvae burrow inside any crickets with which they come in contact and in the course of a week or so, devour what remains of the host before pupating. In Florida, the parasitic flies were only present in the autumn, and at that time of year, the males sang less but for longer periods. A trade-off exists for the male between attracting females and being parasitized.


The primary natural predators of the cricket are lizards, frogs, salamanders, birds, foxes, parasitic wasps, turtles, toads spiders and tortoises. Increasingly, humans are also consuming crickets as they provide a nutritious and sustainable food source. The only other thing that crickets require in their diet is fresh water. Crickets make great food for snakes, fish in larger aquariums, and are even used as bait for fishing.








The link below will take you to "An Intro to benefical bugs and beneficial insect food" it has a list (been worked on) to pests and beneficial insects





Classy, sassy, and a bit of a smart assy

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