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Field Crickets are the crickets everyone sees and hears in late Summer and Fall. They are active at night and hide during the day under rocks and logs, and occasionally in basements, barns, and other structures.
Field crickets are dark brown to black crickets, 9/16 to over 1 inch long. House crickets, Acheta domesticus (Linnaeus), are similar to field crickets but are smaller (about 3/4 inch long) and yellowish-brown with three dark bands on the head and prothorax.
They can breed indoors. Cave and camel crickets (Gryllacrididae) are dark brown, wingless and have long antennae, long well-developed hind legs for jumping. The head is bent down and the back is arched up, giving these insects a humped-backed appearance.
Field crickets are omnivorous. They eat dried organic materials, fresh plant matter, small fruits, seeds, and, at extreme need, both living and dead insects. Plants such as crabgrass, ragweed, and chicory seem to be highly favored food sources. Large populations of G. pennsylvanicus can cause significant damage to agricultural crops, and when this species enters houses (typically in the late summer and early fall) wool, cotton, silk, nylon, rubber, and leather materials may be consumed.
Population explosions in this species typical come after rainfall relieving prolonged drought conditions. The crickets feed at night and spend most of the daylight hours in warm, dark refugia. A field cricket must eat its body weight or more in food every day.
field crickets are able to make the universally recognizable cricket, chirping sounds. Males, though, are able to make the loudest and most noticeable sounds. The chirping is generated by the movement of scrapers found on the edge of the left forewing across a row of teeth-like structures located on the underside of the right forewing. The male field cricket generates a three note, highly trilled song which is answered by a more simplified, two note female song. The rate of chirping is directly influenced by temperature.
Life Cycle: The eggs are usually laid in the soil. The newly hatched nymphs burrow to the surface. They will molt 8 to 10 times over a period of 2 to 3 months before becoming adults. One species overwinters as nymphs and the adults are present in the spring and early summer. Others overwinter as eggs and adults are present during the summer and fall. In certain years, field crickets appear in very large numbers during August and September.
These outbreaks seem to occur after periods of prolonged dry weather in the spring and early summer followed by rainfall in July and August. Extensive soil cracking may be an important factor. Good sites for egg deposition, an abundance of favorable food, vegetation for shelter, and a scarcity of parasites and predators may also be involved.
Control: Crickets commonly spend the daylight hours hiding in dark, damp areas. The elimination of piles of bricks, stones, wood, or other debris around the home will help reduce numbers. Weeds and dense vegetation around the foundations of homes are other good hiding places. Nearby trash dumps, which provide both food and shelter, should be cleaned out.
Since crickets are attracted to lights, the elimination of light sources at night will reduce the numbers attracted to the home area. Measures such as caulking, weather stripping, and making sure all screens and doors are tight fitting will help reduce the numbers that can enter your home or business.
Inside homes or buildings, ready-to-use sprays or aerosols applied to baseboards, door thresholds, and cracks and crevices where crickets hide will normally control them. Also, it is frequently helpful to spray outside around the foundation, in ornamental beds, the patio, the area surrounding stacked firewood, etc. The outside treatment will help prevent crickets from moving into a building. Please contact your local county extension office for current information.
Damage :The major importance is as a nuisance pest when they come to lights in homes and urban areas during periods of high abundance. Their chirping or mere presence is a nuisance to some. Also, they will sometimes damage fabrics, especially if soiled, and may chew on wood, plastic, rubber, or leather goods. During warm nights, the streets beneath bright lights were black with crickets, sides of buildings were completely covered with tremendous numbers of the pests, and some streets were hazardous for driving due to the slipperiness caused by the crushed crickets.
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