The chirping of crickets in the yard: It's a familiar hallmark of summer, and for plenty of homeowners it's a pleasant background noise that lends a sultry, evocative ambience to the evening. For others, the sound holds no charm, and if you're unlucky enough to have a cricket stationed directly beneath your bedroom window, the chirping can quickly become a nightly nuisance. To get rid of crickets, unfortunately, you have to do more than just stand near the back door and shout, “Quiet!” Crickets don't heed commands, no matter how desperate or heartfelt. But there are other, more sophisticated tactics to which they respond. Read on to learn how, with persistence and a bit of luck, you can successfully restore the cricket-free peace and quiet you once took for granted (and never will again).
STEP 1: Locate the source of the crickets
The first and most difficult step is figuring out where the crickets are in the first place. Your best bet is to follow the sound of chirping. Be forewarned that upon your approach, crickets in or near the nest are going to quiet down, thwarting your efforts. Even so, going by ear helps narrow down the search field.
As you look for the crickets making all that racket, focus on elements that provide cover, as crickets are fond of nesting in dark, moist environments. Check along the perimeter of patios or walkways, for example, or beneath decorative planters. Look, too, under layers of mulch or even in the compost heap.
If you are able to locate a nest, there are at least two ways to proceed. One is to cease watering that portion of your property, denying the crickets the water they need to survive. A somewhat more assertive method is to overwater. In either case, the goal is to force the crickets away from their nesting place.
It's all well and good to drive out the crickets, but for a lasting solution you need to go a step further. After all, once you resume your regular watering, the crickets might return. To prevent that from happening, be sure to use dirt or, in certain situations, expanding foam in order to fill in any crickets nests that you find.
STEP 2: DIY or buy a pesticide
Attracted by your home's welcoming lights, crickets seeking shelter may enter through cracks in the foundation or tiny openings around windows or doors. If it's too late to prevent access by sealing up the building envelope, at least there are several ways to get rid of crickets that have come inside uninvited.
Don't discount the classic sticky traps and glue boards, but if you're looking for an easy, low-cost answer, look no further than your kitchen pantry. A jar filled with a 1:10 mixture of molasses and water works remarkably well. Drawn into the jar by the sweet smell, the crickets cannot escape and ultimately drown.
Alternatively, choose a store-bought pesticidal spray. Closely follow the product instructions, of course, and bear in mind that in the home, as in the outdoors, crickets tend to linger where it's dark and moist. Therefore, concentrate your application of pesticide in likely spots-for example, under the kitchen sink.
STEP 3: Do preventative outdoor maintenance
As you're dealing with an infestation, it's important to take steps to prevent one from happening again. It's worth the effort to button up your home's exterior by means of caulks, sealants, and patching compounds. But no matter how well sealed and maintained it may be, your home can never be truly impervious to insects like crickets, despite your best efforts. So, it's equally important to ensure that your home and its immediate surroundings hold as few enticements as possible.
Focus on the yard. Mowing the lawn, weeding plant beds, and removing yard debris-in effect, eliminating common hiding places-all go a long way toward discouraging crickets. In addition, take pains to create some breathing space between the house and its landscaping by pruning back shrubs near your foundation. If you keep a stock of firewood, try to store the logs at least 20 feet away from your home. And don't forget to clear your gutters; they're a notorious pest harborage.
Finally, because lights attract crickets, consider limiting your use of outdoor lighting or switching to motion sensor-activated fixtures. Or, in a have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too scenario, exchange the standard bulb in each fixture for an amber-colored bug light. These specialty bulbs are less likely to act as a beacon for crickets and may help you manage pests without sacrificing the outdoor lighting you rely on for nighttime curb appeal and the safety of your visitors and family members.