Got “Spider Crickets”? Drive Them Out Without Pesticides
After moving to Georgia over five years ago, one thing I had to acclimate myself to was a new host of creepy crawlers. Coming from Ohio, I was familiar with many of these new bugs, but in the American South there are a few different types that commonly pop up inside homes.
Of all of them, spider crickets really stand out. Though spider crickets (also known as cave crickets or camel crickets) share the cricket name, they’re very different than the little chirpers you hear or see bouncing around in the yard. Truthfully, my first thought after seeing my first spider cricket was, “What kind of freaky mutant spider thing is that?!” And then, it jumped, and my thought crystallized. It was obviously the mutant offspring of one very adventurous cricket and one freaky spider.
Despite their… unloveability, spider crickets really are harmless. But like another other critter, most of us would prefer they make their home somewhere else.
Getting rid of this unwanted houseguest can be done in a variety of ways. Often people will use a professional service which usually consists of spraying throughout and around the home. A growing portion of people, though, are trying other methods to remove unwanted bugs from the home.
I grew up in a family that tossed hedge apples under the beds every fall, so I’m always mindful of either an old fashioned or at least, non-chemical way to solve common problems. Getting rid of spider crickets is no exception.
Like nearly all other insects, the spider cricket absorbs moisture through its skin. So in order for it to survive, it needs warm, moist air. And if you live in the south, this is where your basement or crawlspace can become Hotel de Spricket (spider + cricket = spricket).
In my case, the crawlspace was most certainly the culprit, and one look with my roommate was more than enough to see that the Hotel was full!
There are a variety of crawlspace dehumidifiers available on the market, and several would be able to solve my problem. I chose the Aprilaire 1710A dehumidifier, for several reasons. First, the water removal capacity was in line with what I was looking for.
Most room dehumidifiers top out around 70 pints per day, but due to the nature of this space, the humidity level is extremely high during the spring and summer months. The 1710A will remove 90 pints per day, but as with other dehumidifiers, if conditions are more extreme, it can exceed that.
Secondly, each Aprilaire dehumidifier is constructed of steel and come with five year warranty. This was important to me since I wanted something that was going to last. Lastly, the facts that the core is insulated and there is a MERV 8 air filter were both features I really liked.
It rarely freezes where I live, but the insulation helps buffer the units from the temperature swings of transitional months. The air filter was a must with the location where I was going to use the Aprilaire. Crawlspaces are not clean, and the cheap plastic mesh “filters” used by a lot of dehumidifiers are not enough to keep dirt, dust and other debris from collecting in internal components.
Setup was really simple. Overall, the most difficult thing was probably getting the unit into the crawlspace. The casters helped some, but not as much as if it was on a finished surface. More importantly though, the casters keep the dehumidifier elevated off of the ground and away from moisture.
The 1710 lacks any sort of condensate pump or reservoir, but what it does have is a P-trap and a little over 5’ of clear hose. This wasn’t enough for me, so I went to the local Home Depot and purchased a 12’ length of hose. Once I installed the P-trap and hose, I ran the hose down towards the doorway of the crawlspace.
There, I knocked out a hole, through the wood door, with a standard 1” wood bit and cordless drill. I then ran the hose through the opening and to black drain line that attaches to the bottom of the one of the downspouts.
I fed the condensate line into this drain line because the two primary downspouts of the house feed into French drains. And because the house is built on a slight grade, the P-trap and basic gravity allow the water to run down and into the small hole I punched in the black drain pipe.
If this solution won’t work for you because there is no floor drain or other drain nearby, you can pick up a condensate pump for $60-$100 from your local hardware of big box home improvement store. You then run the supplied hose from the 1710A into the condensate pump and the pump can than push the water upgrade or to a nearby drain that would normally be inaccessible.
Once all of this was in place I simply set the dial and let it run. After about an hour I checked the unit and there was condensate in the line, with a small trickle emptying into the drain. To get a true reading of the humidity levels, you will need a separate humidity gauge. A week later I checked the reading and came up with just under 40%.
With the spider crickets, my goal is 35% relative humidity, so after another week, I’ll check again. Aside from reducing or eliminating the spider crickets in that space, the low humidity level is stopping the growth of mold on the floor joists. With my favorite mold cleaner, Vital Oxide, a bristle brush, and a face mask, I have already started removing some of the mold.
Going from initial results I’m pleased with the reduction in the rh in that space. With time, this continued drying should drive away the spider crickets and dramatically slow mold growth. I wish I could say I’m sad to the see the spider crickets go, but like anything that so rudely greets me in the bathroom each morning, I’m not.