Summary: Crickets can certainly do damage to various types of garden plants, but there are ways to stop them using natural cricket control methods. You don't necessarily need to use pesticides for cricket control, if that is your preference.
A reader asks: Crickets are eating my plants. What organic/non-toxic pest control method can I use to stop them? Please help!
Dear Reader: The most important step to take for successful cricket control is to reduce or eliminate the habitats that make it possible for the crickets to survive. These are areas that can stay moist most of the time.
Mow tall grass and weed flower beds. Crickets love tall grasses. If you have tall grasses near or around your house, it's best to keep them trimmed low. Crickets also live in debris. They are attracted to moist, shaded debris, like grass clippings. So if you're mowing your lawn or clipping tall grasses, make sure to rake the clippings away from the house or garden. We also suggest keeping compost heaps away from areas you wish to obtain good cricket control.
If treating mulch with chemicals, decaying leaves or other thick material, make sure you get the chemical to go down deep where the crickets will be hiding. A couple of organic control products products to consider are Semaspore, an organic solution that will control cricket and grasshopper pests, and refined petroleum oils.
A note about refined petroleum oils: They have long been used for managing insects and mites. Oils smother insects by plugging the orifices, called spiracles, through which they breathe. They may also be toxic to some insects and mites. Oil products developed for use in pest management are typically referred to as either horticultural oils or dormant oils. They are usually used as sprays, mixed with water in a 1 to 3 percent solution.
The primary problem with oils is that they can damage your plants if used improperly. The first oils to be used horticulturally were the "dormant oils," which could only be used safely on plants in a dormant state. However, our understanding of what makes oils useful as pesticides and what causes plant injury (phytotoxicity) has increased, and oil products that can be used safely on many plants, even when they've leafed out, are now available.
Some plants do remain "oil shy" even to the most refined horticultural oils. Read the label for details on sensitive plants and on what conditions are best when using these products. If you buy an oil product, be sure to fully explain your situation to a knowlegable retailer.
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