Q.Every year at about this time a number of crickets and other small animals come into our home. I use sticky glue boards to trap most of them near a sliding door so I'm pretty sure that their principle entrance is under that standard six foot wide slidi ng patio door in the basement at ground level. When I slide the door open there are usually several crickets hiding in the track. I don't see a brand name on the door so it's probably a contractor grade generic door. Is there a way to replace the seal un der the door?
Or would I be better off replacing it? The door is probably 20 years old and it works fine, but it's probably not air tight if bugs can crawl in. I sometimes consider installing a non-slider primarily to improve security but the slider does give us light in a dark basement. Installing a non-slider might be a big job since it's in a finished basement with paneling over a concrete block wall. What would you recommend?
A. Crickets along with most other creatures sense the change of season and seek shelter to wait out the winter. Your house looks like a good spot to hide out so here they come. Your basement slider is just one of probably a dozen potential entry points. A modern French type swinging door set might be tighter but donít look to that as a cricket cure.
Crickets love dark corners and dank recesses so you'll find them in outside stairwells to basements and in garages. They get into the house through tiny openings under doors and around windows and once in the house they go looking for something to drink which is why you'll frequently find them in the basement. I know I'll hear from purists who will instruct me that there are different types of crickets and I know that. For the purposes of irritation they are all the same to me.
Perimeter spraying with some of the available insecticides may reduce the numbers of crickets and other household pests such as ants but in the long run we all know it won't eliminate them. EPA has slowly but surely reduced the selection of anti-pest ag ents for valid human health-risk reasons and the substitutes never seem to match up to the effectiveness of the banned poisons. After all, we are trying to kill living things in great numbers and in so doing we can hurt ourselves too. Some anti-insect measures attack the mechanics of the pest's body in ways that are harmless to pets and humans such as using chemicals that dehydrate. Crickets hop over that stuff and the best thing for them was a nerve agent that I agree shouldn't be used where kids an d pets can be exposed. The stuff I've used in the past even made me tingle and I knew it was nasty and not good for me.
You can attempt to reduce the entry points by making sure all the doors to the exterior have tight weather-stripping especially at the thresholds. Attaching a sweep like weatherstrip piece to outside lower stile of the slider panels might help but again, donít count on it. Check the basement windows and caulk as needed.
The garage is a losing battle. The door stays open while cars and people come and go and so do crickets. Even closed, garage doors are notoriously loose fitting. Garages tend to be the repositories of all manner of stuff such as lawn equipment, athletic gear, boat stuff, grilles, bicycles etc, providing dozens of little dens and crannies where crickets can hide. They love garbage cans.
I generally take a tolerant view of most living things until they take up residence in the house with me, uninvited. The cricket strain I dislike the most are the ones that become ensconced in a corner or under a couch and start chirping for a mate whil e I'm trying to sleep. All those stories about them being good luck aside I can't sleep until I've silenced the offender and sometimes the search is maddeningly long. I've been told that if they can't find a moisture source they eventually dry out and d ie inside the house. I can't wait that long.
Like you, the non-toxic long-term solution that I've come to employ is setting out those sticky traps frequently sold for mice control. Crickets jump onto them and that's their last leap. I have taken to using our old friend, duct tape, in strips about e ight inches long placed glue side up and it seems to work as well as the sticky traps. The old mice counting formula-- if you can see one then you have twenty-- certainly holds true with crickets. I've been told that a healthy cat will significantly redu ce the cricket population in the house. If you use the sticky traps or duct tape strips, hide them behind things where the kids, cat or dog can't get to them.