Don’t Be PESTered This Fall

 

Cricket_bwWe’re officially in autumn! Blankets of multi-colored leaves fall on our yards every day, leaving trees with a dark, skeleton-like frame against the sky. Our gardens are slowing down and pumpkin harvest is just a hard frost away. The symphonic sounds of crickets fill the air. Have you noticed their music at night, in the early morning… and even during the day?

Crickets are on the rise this year. As you clean up your yard and rake away fallen leaves, look for oversized black crickets. The typical field cricket is alive and well in the hidden places in our yards and garden beds. They like to hide under leaves and in thick grasses. Crickets also like to lurk under boards, pallets, and other debris. While they might keep their distance from inside our homes now, as the temperatures continue to drop, these little pests will seek warm shelter.

Cracks in your house’s foundation that will let cold air inside can also be an entrance for crickets to sneak in from the chilly temps. These little musicians will also look for gaps in ill-fitting doorways and garage doors, roof ducts, air-conditioner connections and outdoor faucets. Basically, they can squeeze through anywhere that isn’t a tight seal.

Add caulk and weather stripping to doorways and window frames. Perform this DIY test to ensure the heat is staying inside (www.energy.gov).

  1. On a cool and windy day, turn off all appliances or stoves that create air disturbances. (Some of these are gas burning furnaces and water heaters. If you don’t want to turn off your furnace, just turn on all exhaust fans to depressurize your home.)
  2. Shut all windows, exterior doors and fireplace flues.
  3. Turn on all exhaust fans that blow air outside, such as the clothes dryer, bathroom fans or stove vents. You can also use a large window fan to suck the air out of the rooms.
  4. Light an incense stick (or candle) and pass it around the edges of common leak sites. Wherever the smoke wavers or is sucked out of or blown into the room, there’s a draft. You can also use a damp hand to locate leaks; any drafts will feel cool to your hand.

If that sounds too time consuming, do the dollar bill test. Shut a door or window on a dollar bill. If you can pull the dollar bill out without it dragging, you’re leaving an entrance for crickets to make themselves at home.

As you shut out crickets, you will also stop ways for interior heat to escape!

Of course you can also use an insecticide in a 6- to 12-foot band around the house as a barrier. However, this might not be as effective as a thorough inspection.

Once the little buggers are inside, there’s not much you can do to get rid of them. Crickets like cool, dark places like garages and basements and they are good at hide-and-seek. If only the crickets were like Jiminy Cricket and was cute and gave us advice.

By the way, do you know why crickets chirp? According to cricket-breeding.com, the main, most important reason is to attract and court a mate that they can reproduce with. Each species has its own unique chirp that is identifiable to the females of that species; only the males chirp. Younger male crickets have a higher pitched, louder sound than do the older males.

The old myth is true: crickets chirp by rubbing their forewings together. One side of the wings contains a jagged edge. When the flat side of the wing rubs against the jagged side, this produces the chirp sound.

Crickets produce three types of chirps. The “calling song” is the rhythmic, familiar chirp that you typically hear on a summer night.

The “courtship song” features faster, deeper sounding chirps. This song is used when a male is right about to mate.

The “aggressive song” is a loud trill most often produced as two male crickets fight.

Photo Credit: Enchanted Learning

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