House Crickets – Melodious or Maddening?
“To find a cricket on the hearth is the luckiest thing of all.” This is according to Charles Dickens in his 1845 novella “The Cricket on the Hearth: A Fairy Tale of Home.” Having a cricket on the hearth has been a sign of luck for thousands of years all over the world. In China and Japan, crickets have been brought indoors to delight inhabitants for almost 1000 years! Valued for their song, crickets were kept in small cages of bamboo. House crickets are often associated with the new year and good luck.
But to many homeowners, a cricket on the hearth, or under the floorboards, is nothing but a nuisance due not only to the noise they make, but the damage they can do.
House crickets make a distinctive chirping noise. It is loud. It is continuous, often for hours at a time. And it occurs at night since crickets are nocturnal and do their feeding and singing when it is dark outside. Some say they sound like new born chicks.
The male cricket is the one that sings, doing so to attract the females. He sets up his own little home (on the hearth or another location of his choosing) and makes his sound by rubbing his wings together. Crickets become louder and faster as temperatures rise. In fact, scientists can measure temperature by calculating the frequency of cricket chirps. Male crickets also release a sharp piping observe when another male cricket attempts to go into his territory.
A love-sick cricket can sing for hours at a time, making as many as 10,000 chirps in one hour. The larger the cricket, the more frequent the sound. In the Imperial Palace of ancient China, ladies kept crickets in small golden cages on their pillows, so that they might fall asleep to the song.
Crickets are a noisy house guest, but they are comparatively harmless unless there is a large infestation in a home. Because they eat just about anything, crickets have an abundant supply of food in most homes. They prefer soft plant matter, but will also eat other live or dead insects, silk, wool, synthetic fabric, paper, wood, rubber, fruit, vegetables and other foods.
A favorite cricket delicacy is wallpaper. They love to eat the glue that holds paper to walls. They will then continue to eat the wallpaper itself.