Field Cricket

Field Cricket (Gryllus spp.)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Field Cricket.

Updated: 1/8/2020; Authored By Staff Writer; Content В©

The famous chirping of the Field Cricket evokes memories of warm summer nights to those who had the time to listen.

Field Crickets are a common site throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada. Warm summer nights bring them out en masse as the males loudly chirp up to 30 times a minute in an effort to attract a female. The noise is a pleasant reminder of the season and will immediately stop if the crickets are approached too closely.

Field Crickets make homes in the ground, in tall grass, or even piles of organic lawn debris. They jump away from perceived danger, but sometimes that means right onto your legs if you’re walking through their habitat. They are completely harmless and bounce off as soon as they land. The sensation of being touched tends to startle people.

Field Crickets eat a diet of animal remains and plant matter. They provide beneficial services to the ecosystem by eating the eggs and pupae of insect that are considered pests. On the other hand, in large numbers, they can be somewhat of a nuisance in gardens, chewing on plants grown for food or aesthetics. Field Crickets are a popular food item for many animals. They are often the species of insect that is used to feed ‘pet’ spiders and other insectivores like reptiles. Anglers may also use them as bait when fishing. In many countries, they are a food source for humans, providing essential nutrients like protein.

Field Cricket

Description of field crickets

The field cricket is one of the most common household accidental invader insect pests. There are several species of field crickets ranging in size from 1/4 to 3/4 inch, but the best known is the black field cricket, a large, shiny black insect. Like other accidental invaders, field crickets spend most of their life outdoors where they feed, grow, develop and reproduce. Only during a limited portion of their life cycle do they wander indoors by mistake and create an annoyance.

Life cycle of field crickets

Field crickets spend the winter as eggs laid in the soil. These eggs hatch in late spring or early summer, and tiny immature crickets called nymphs begin to feed on a variety of succulent grasses and weeds. The nymphs look like the adults except for their smaller size and the absence of wings. Nymphs develop into adults within approximately 90 days. The adults mate and lay eggs in late summer before succumbing to old age or freezing temperatures in the fall.

Chirping, one of the hallmarks of crickets, is done only by the males as a way to attract the females of their own species. Chirping is produced by rubbing the wings together.

Management of field crickets

There is no single, perfect solution for the control of crickets that are invading the house. Often some combination of the following suggestions will work. Ultimately, cricket problems end in the fall when the adults are killed by heavy frost or freeze.

  1. Seal cracks, gaps and holes in foundation, siding, windows, doors, screens, and other possible entry points. Remove vegetation and debris from next to the house that serves as a hiding place or breeding site.
  2. Reduce the number of pests at the source if possible. Spraying outdoor use insecticides on lawns, fencerows and other cricket habitats may help reduce the population of rickets. Spraying in mid summer when crickets are small is more effective than late summer applications.
  3. Use barrier perimeter sprays on and along the foundation to stop migrating invaders. In years of abundance the barrier should extend all the way to the source if possible; that is,all the way to the fencerow, ditch bank or other identifiable habitat for crickets.
  4. For invaders already inside the house, vacuum or sweep them up and discard.

For more information on insecticides that can be used outdoors please see this article. Indoor treatments with residual insecticicides have little in any benefit. Do not use lawn and garden insecticide concentrates indoors. The fly swatter, rolled up magazine, or vacuum cleaner are the easiest methods to eliminate crickets that are inside.

Do you live in Iowa and have an insect you would like identified?

The Iowa State University Plant & Insect Diagnostic Clinic will identify your insect, provide information on what it eats, life cycle, and if it is a pest the best ways to manage them. Please see our website for current forms, fees, and instructions on preserving and mailing insects.

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