Getting Into Sticky Situations for Cricket Control

"Duct tape adhesive is to crickets as catnip is to cats," writes John Moody to explain his cricket trap. (David Besenger -- Missouri Department Of Conservation)
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By John Kelly
Monday, January 12, 2009

I'm not much for cats, but my friends who have them often remark on how fascinating it is to watch them hunt. Cats move through the grass -- or across the linoleum -- with all the stealth of a lion on the Serengeti. Despite millennia of domestication, that primal, predatory urge still beats deep inside the feline breast.

Something similar beats inside the human breast, too. In a column on New Year's Day, I mentioned in passing that I had crickets in my basement. The flood of helpful e-mail suggestions I received have convinced me that we still welcome the thrill of the hunt. No one recommended that I drive the crickets toward a cliff while brandishing flaming torches -- as Plains Indians once did with bison -- but I detected the same sort of ingenuity that greeted my column on banishing a mouse from my house.

Apparently, the glue trap is the modern version of the snares Bronze Age man set on forest trails. Silver Spring's Bill Borwegen was among the readers who swear by them. "Not only do you eliminate [crickets]," he wrote, "but you get to count the number of your victims!" (Bill noted one drawback: "I did step on one trap by accident; couldn't get the glue off so had to throw away the sock.")

Glue traps are ruthlessly effective. We use them, and every time I go downstairs I say to myself, "What's that hairbrush doing on the floor over there? That's no hairbrush. It's a cricket-encrusted glue trap."

John Moody also employs an adhesive solution for the cricket problems in his AU Park home, but he's old school. Rather than buy glue traps at the hardware store, he makes his own: "Rip off a 10-or-so-inch length of duct tape. Fold one end back half-an-inch to provide a strip of 'non-stick' surface. Get out your vise grip and bite them down on the non-sticky end to serve as an anchor. Lay tape with vise grip down on the basement floor off to one side, sticky face up, so nobody walks on it. For reasons arranged by God, duct tape adhesive is to crickets as catnip is to cats. They can't help themselves. Without the vise grip anchor, you'd have to really search to find your cricket trap."

And if the crickets get away with the vise grip on there, you have some really big crickets.

Douglas Goralski said that the yard around his McLean home is "a true wild kingdom -- except the grass sometimes gets cut." He uses glue traps to corral crickets but has also caught "mice, snakes and in one case a small mole. We used mineral oil to rescue them from a horrible death, but only the snakes have a real chance of surviving, because they shed their skins. The blacksnakes are welcome guests, inasmuch as they eat mice and crickets, but they must stay in the basement or crawl space! The snakes will actually stop struggling and let you clean them. However, after a while they give you a bite to let you know it's time to let them go."

Arlington's Bonita Billman employs a kinder, gentler method: chemical warfare. "I have found putting an Osage orange on the floor in the basement most effective," she wrote. "This is an 'old wives' remedy I read about years ago and, although Wikipedia claims there is no evidence it works, I have found it almost 100 percent effective. Apparently the crickets do not like the off-gassing and leave (doesn't kill them, just keeps them away). Worth a try, I say."

What is an Osage orange? It's that tree that produces those little green brains that litter the sidewalk. Bonita collects hers from a cobbled side street in Georgetown next to Dixie Liquor.

Finally, Erwin Bedarf of Arlington used a bit of poesy to chide me for getting rid of my ninja mouse in the first place:

Too bad you ousted the mouse.

To eliminate the cricket,


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