House crickets, of the family Gryllidae, are closely related to grasshoppers and locusts. They have hind legs that are specially modified for jumping. A cricket’s ear (or tympanum) is located on the tibia of its hind legs. Adults are pale brown with a black patterning on the head and thorax. Crickets have wings but they only use their back pair to fly.
Crickets are famous for their chirping. Only male crickets chirp and they do so to attract females. To create the chirping noise the cricket stridulates the teeth on the sharp edge of one wing against a thick, rough scraper on the opposite wing. As the action is repeated the wing temperature rises, causing the song to become louder and faster. Males are very territorial and they will warn off other males with a sharp aggressive piping note. Over a four hour period a cricket will chirp no fewer than 42,000 times, much to the consternation of sleepless homeowners!
Crickets are omnivores and scavengers, feeding on almost any kind of organic matter including other insects and carrion. Usually they prefer soft plant matter. Adult crickets cannibalise their young. House crickets complete their life cycle in two to three months. A damp substrate such as peat moss or sand provides a perfect place to lay eggs. Females lay between 50 and 100 eggs. The hatched nymphs blend in with their surroundings. The nymphs look like miniature adults, except their wings and genitals are not fully formed. They reach maturity in eight to twelve weeks. Warmer climates may speed up the process of maturing. Some adults will die naturally after mating.
Crickets are common pests in housing and may invade in great numbers. Treatment is generally applied to outdoors areas, around windows and doors, crawl spaces, weep holes and gardens.