Part of the Grylloidea superfamily of insects, crickets have prominent hind legs and long antennae often greater than or equal to the length of their bodies. The notable antennae help distinguish crickets and grasshoppers, which otherwise bear a striking resemblance to each other. Adult crickets usually measure between 12 mm and 25 mm in length, depending on the species. Crickets range in colour from light yellow or tan to dark brown or black. Many cricket species have wings that lay flat against the back, though some varieties of crickets are wingless. Adult females visibly feature an ovipositor, a long appendage shaped like a needle or sword and used for laying eggs.
Crickets usually behave nocturnally and are most active at night. During the day, crickets typically find a dark, moist place to rest and hide from predators. The insects live in a variety of habitats, including fields, trees, burrows, caves and even garbage dumps. As the weather turns colder, crickets often take refuge in manmade structures like houses and sheds. Some common species of crickets demonstrate a strong attraction to light.
Harmless to humans, crickets mainly feed on plants and plant debris. Most crickets are omnivorous and also eat smaller insects, including other crickets. When crickets manage to invade private residences, they often consume fabrics, houseplants, paper products and remnants of human food.
Winged male crickets initiate the reproductive process by rubbing their wings together to produce distinctive chirping noises that attract female crickets. Females use their ovipositor to lay eggs primarily during the autumn season. Cricket eggs mature during the winter and hatch in the spring. Baby crickets emerge from the eggs as nymphs with underdeveloped wings before gradually evolving into adults. In Canada and other northern regions, crickets produce just one generation of offspring each year. Crickets rarely breed indoors.
Some of the most common cricket species found in Canada include the camel cricket, the house cricket, and the northern field cricket. Often attracted by light and warmth, each of these cricket varieties is capable of entering houses and causing significant damage. While camel crickets tend to prefer paper, field crickets and house crickets in indoor environments regularly feed on fabrics, including carpet, clothing, and upholstery. Large numbers of crickets can easily destroy luxury materials like silk and wool. In addition to causing destruction indoors, crickets often disrupt farms by eating the roots and shoots of newly planted crops.
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