As we enter the autumn season, temperatures begin to drop and rainfall levels moderate. Leaves begin to fall to the ground and effectively act as mulch. This organic matter retains moisture and serves to insulate the ground, making leaf litter an ideal pest ecosystem. Combining these factors with insect pests trying to enter structures to gain a foothold for the winter, many homes can effectively become a pest’s winter residence. Perhaps the most common insect “house guests” this time of year are crickets. Clients will often describe them to me as jumping spiders. The house and field crickets, in particular, have extraordinary leaping ability, particularly in the warmth of basement boiler and laundry rooms where they thrive. It is the cricket’s “musical ability” however, for which it is best known. In fact, in China and Japan crickets are often placed in beautiful ornate cages so they can serenade a home. It is the adult male only who sings, by the friction of his upper wings on each other. Please note the chirping sound does not necessarily indicate a cricket; on more than one occasion I’ve “solved” this problem for a client by changing or removing a weak battery in their smoke detector! The sounds are virtually identical. Conversely, not all crickets chirp. The camel cricket, very common in the Northeast, is silent.
Homeowners can help deter these pests by these simple steps:
• Minimize excess leaf litter and mulch, particularly against the house.
• Avoid storage of firewood, bricks, lumber, etc. against the house.
• Change exterior lighting from mercury vapor to sodium vapor, or yellow insect lights. Also, redirect them away from the house.
• Ensure doors, windows and utility entry points are tightly sealed.
• Contact a pest management professional; he or she can tailor an appropriate treatment strategy if needed.
(Great Neck resident Irwin T. Levy is president of Aladdin Pest Control, Garden City Park. He can be reached at 516-248-6350 or firstname.lastname@example.org)