Ask Dr. Bleedingheart

Bleeding Heart BlossomsDear Dr. Bleedingheart,

Should I worry that crickets have decided to move into my basement this winter? Thankfully, they are rather polite tenants and respectful of quiet hours. Although generally nondestructive, they are eating the cat food, which shows some poor judgment on their part – without an ample supply of Friskies, the cats very well might turn to crickets for their morning snack. Is the cat food just the start? Will they soon terrorize my basement like a 7-year locust, or are they simply harmless crickets looking for a place to stay when it gets chilly?

Dr. Bleedinghart, should I let them stay through the winter months, or would I be better off kicking them out on the cold, hard curb?

Signed,
Chirping Worried

Dear Chirping,

Never fear.  Some people love the sound of crickets chirping.  Some people believe crickets bring good luck.  Some people feel that the natural sounds of the world—the crickets, the foxes, the wind and the rain—are the most peaceful and soothing sounds one could hear while falling asleep.  I don’t suppose you’d be one of those people, would you?

If you’re not, that’s okay.  It’s your house; you should get to decide who lives there.  Just be glad we’re dealing with crickets, not unemployed in-laws looking for a place to stay until they get back on their feet.  As uninvited guests go, crickets are both harmless and easy to get rid of.

Start by sealing up any cracks or gaps in windows, walls, doorways, and so forth.  Then walk around the house and see if you have any cricket condos right up against the walls.  Stacks of firewood, piles of bricks or stones, and weeds and grass around the foundation might be inviting crickets inside.

And if you still hear chirping after you’ve tried those changes?  Get simple, non-toxic glue traps at the hardware store or garden center.  Put them down near the source of the chirping, and pile a little cornmeal in the center of each trap. Within a couple days, the crickets should be glued helplessly down.  What happens next is up to you.

And seriously, about the in-laws:  unemployment’s on the rise, and everybody’s broke after the holidays.  This is a good time to make it known that your guest room is infested with black mold and both your bathrooms are under renovation.  As with pest control, prevention is the best cure.  Good luck.

Amy StewartAmy Stewart is the author of From the Ground Up: The Story of a First Garden, The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms, and the New York Times bestsellers Flower Confidential: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful in the Business of Flowers and Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother & Other Botanical Atrocities. Find more from her at Garden Rant.

Submit your own horticultural question to Dr. Bleedingheart by emailing it to: katie [at] algonquin [dot] com

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