Crickets are a common household pest that can be frustrating to deal with. Their incessant chirping at night makes it hard to sleep, they damage fabrics, plants, and food, and no one likes finding cricket droppings around their home. When crickets invade, many homeowners turn to natural remedies like vinegar to kill and repel the pesky insects. But does vinegar work on crickets? Let’s take a closer look at using vinegar against crickets.
A Brief Introduction to Crickets
Before diving into vinegar, let’s cover some cricket basics. There are two main types of crickets commonly found inside houses:
- House crickets – light brown or tan crickets around 1 inch long. They are noisy and known for their chirping sounds.
- Camel crickets – a.k.a. cave crickets. Light tan, humpbacked crickets can grow over 1 inch long. They are silent and tend to hide in dark damp areas.
Both types of crickets can reproduce rapidly and infest homes. They enter through cracks in walls, under doors, or through open windows. Low moisture areas with access to food sources like paper, fabrics, and crumbs allow cricket populations to thrive inside.
Their droppings and secretions can also cause allergic reactions in some people. A cricket infestation can quickly go from nuisance to serious problem once they start multiplying. So controlling crickets with natural repellents like vinegar seems appealing to many homeowners. But is vinegar truly effective?
Vinegar as a Natural Pesticide
White vinegar or apple cider vinegar are often touted as natural cricket killers. Vinegar is an acidic liquid made through fermenting foods like apples or grains. The main active ingredient is acetic acid, typically at a concentration of 3-9% in most vinegars.
Acetic acid gives vinegar antibacterial, antifungal, and disinfectant properties. As a mild acid, it can help dissolve mineral deposits like limescale. Vinegar is commonly used as a natural cleaner and has many applications around the home.
Many natural pest control sources recommend vinegar as a chemical-free way to kill and repel crickets. It’s inexpensive, non-toxic when diluted, and readily available in any grocery store. White distilled vinegar or apple cider vinegar are the most popular choices.
But while vinegar can kill some bacteria and fungi, crickets have protective outer layers that likely limit its efficacy. The acetic acid concentration may just not be strong enough to penetrate a cricket’s exoskeleton.
Does Vinegar Kill Crickets?
There is limited scientific research specifically testing vinegar’s ability to kill crickets. Much of the evidence is anecdotal. However, based on vinegar’s properties and cricket physiology, it likely only repels and irritates crickets rather than killing them.
The 5% acetic acid content in most vinegars is relatively low compared to concentrations used in commercial pesticides. So vinegar may not be potent enough to penetrate an adult cricket’s protective chitinous exoskeleton fully. It probably does not impact crickets as much as insects with softer bodies.
Anecdotal reports of using vinegar against crickets are mixed. Some homeowners swear by vinegar sprays and traps for controlling infestations. Others state it did nothing to stop cricket problems in their homes. The inconsistent results suggest vinegar should not be relied on as a sole treatment method.
While vinegar alone may not kill crickets, it could be more effective if combined with other natural remedies like diatomaceous earth. But overall, vinegar is likely better at repelling and irritating crickets than eliminating large infestations inside a home. More potent solutions may be needed for that level of control.
Using Vinegar to Repel Crickets
Since the acetic acid in vinegar seems to repel and irritate crickets rather than kill them primarily, vinegar can help deter crickets from entering and congregating in certain areas.
Here are some ways to use vinegar as a cricket repellent around the home:
- Vinegar sprays – Mix 1 part vinegar with 1 part water in a spray bottle. Spray onto baseboards, window sills, door frames, crawl spaces, vents, appliances and anywhere else crickets enter or hide. This can deter them from congregating in treated areas.
- Pure vinegar traps – Place shallow dishes of pure vinegar around known cricket hiding spots. The strong vinegar odor should deter crickets from the area.
- Vinegar with dish soap – Add a few drops to vinegar traps. The soap lowers the surface tension so crickets touching the liquid will break through and get coated, making them avoid the area.
- DIY vinegar & essential oil sprays – For a stronger cricket repellent spray, mix 2 cups vinegar, 2 cups water and 30 drops of an essential oil like lavender, peppermint or eucalyptus into a spray bottle. The added oils provide extra insect repelling power.
- Dry vinegar powder – Spread vinegar powder made from dehydrated vinegar around areas prone to cricket entry and infestation. The powder smell can deter cricket activity.
Vinegar’s strong scent and acidic taste create an environment that crickets try to avoid. While it may not kill them directly, vinegar can be a useful pest control tool to discourage cricket colonization and movement in the home.
Apple Cider Vinegar vs White Vinegar against Crickets
Two of the most commonly used types of vinegar are white vinegar and apple cider vinegar. Is one more effective against crickets? Here’s how they compare:
White Distilled Vinegar
- Typically 5-8% acetic acid
- Clear appearance
- Strong vinegar smell
- Made from grain alcohols
- High acidity and antimicrobial effects
- May be more potent against crickets
Apple Cider Vinegar
- Typically 5-6% acetic acid
- Golden/brown color
- Milder smell
- Made from fermented apples
- It contains vitamins, minerals and probiotics
- Enzymes may help break down cricket exoskeletons
Based on the above differences, some believe apple cider vinegar may be slightly better at killing crickets than white vinegar due to the added enzymes. However, no scientific studies confirm if the enzymes increase apple cider vinegar’s insecticidal effects. Both types will likely repel and irritate crickets rather than kill them.
White vinegar may be advantageous for repelling crickets due to its stronger acidic smell. But apple cider vinegar is the better choice for consuming in the home since it has more health benefits. Overall, both can be used interchangeably as natural cricket control remedies.
Other Home Remedies That Can Kill or Repel Crickets
While vinegar alone provides limited cricket control, several other non-toxic household items can help eliminate or drive away crickets when used together:
This powder from crushed fossils has microscopic sharp edges that damage crickets’ exoskeletons and lead to dehydration. Spread diatomaceous earth in crawl spaces, under appliances, around baseboards, etc. The fine powder feels like sharp glass to crickets walking over it, eventually causing death.
The laundry booster contains borates that are toxic to insects. Sprinkle borax in infested areas for crickets to ingest, or use it to make borax sticky traps. The chemical scrambles their organs, eventually killing them. But use with caution, as borax is also toxic to pets.
Oils like lemon, lavender, peppermint, tea tree and eucalyptus have insecticidal properties. Spray, vaporize, or place cotton balls soaked in oils where crickets hide. The strong scent repels them. Oils can also be added to traps to kill crickets attracted to the bait.
Traps made from non-drying sticky substances like petroleum jelly capture crickets entering an area so they eventually die. Place traps along baseboards, under sinks, etc. Add a lure like pheromones or food to attract more crickets. The sticky surface holds crickets in place once they make contact.
Liquid Dish Soap
Dish soap decreases insect exoskeleton permeability, causing them to dehydrate. Spray soapy water on entry points. The soap also lowers surface tension in traps so crickets break through the liquid and drown. Avoid antibacterial soaps that crickets can potentially develop resistance to.
This moisture-absorbing substance dehydrates crickets that ingest it. Dust it around hiding spots. Avoid gels containing cobalt chloride which are toxic to pets. Or use in sealed containers with small entry holes for crickets.
Crushed chalk creates a fine powder that abrades crickets and clogs breathing holes in their exoskeletons. Spread chalk dust along baseboards and corners. It’s non-toxic and abrasive texture irritates crickets.
Using a combination of these remedies has a greater impact compared to vinegar alone. They target cricket infestations through multiple mechanisms like irritation, dehydration, poisoning and trapping. Vinegar can complement these other ingredients as a repellent spray or trap addition.
A multi-pronged approach utilizing several household items is more effective than relying on vinegar as the sole natural cricket treatment.
Risks of Using Vinegar
While vinegar is generally safe, there are some risks to consider:
- Can damage certain surfaces like stone, metal or hardwood floors if not sufficiently diluted in water. Test on a small area first.
- Eye and skin irritation or burns from high concentrations or pure vinegar. Wear gloves and eye protection.
- May have limited efficacy, providing false sense of security against major infestations. More aggressive treatment methods may ultimately be needed.
- Fruit-based vinegars attract gnats and fruit flies. Use traps to catch increased populations after application.
- Pet poisoning if consumed in large quantities, especially in concentrated forms like vinegar powder.
- May not deter or impact all cricket species the same. Larger camel crickets may be more resistant.
- Can have strong odor during application, though this dissipates over time. Ventilate area if smell is overwhelming.
While low-risk with proper usage, be aware that vinegar alone has limitations. Be prepared to take additional extermination steps if crickets persist after vinegar treatments. And as with any chemical, keep vinegar away from children and pets.
When to Call a Professional Exterminator
For severe cricket infestations, vinegar and natural repellents may not be enough. Here are some signs it’s time to call in a professional exterminator:
- Crickets continue multiplying rapidly despite home remedies.
- They have spread to numerous rooms or entire home.
- You find cricket eggs indicating an established population.
- Seeing large camel crickets which may resist DIY treatments.
- Allergies or asthma getting worse from cricket allergens.
- They are damaging or contaminating food or fabrics.
- You are unable or unwilling to implement intensive natural treatments.
- Other pests like mice are also present.
Professional exterminators can access more potent chemical treatments like pyrethroids, insect growth regulators, and boric acid. They can use foggers or large-scale sprays to penetrate deep hiding spots under floors or walls that home remedies can’t reach.
While pricier than DIY methods, professionals can eliminate entrenched cricket infestations once and for all. But vinegar sprays and traps can help as a preventative between professional treatments.
Preventing Future Cricket Infestations
Repelling and eliminating current crickets is only half the battle. You also need to prevent future infestations. Here are some tips:
- Install tight-fitting screens on windows and doors. Caulk gaps around pipes and wires entering the home.
- Fix leaky plumbing and humidity sources that attract crickets. Dehumidify damp rooms like basements.
- Remove debris like leaves, grass and mulch near the foundation where crickets hide. Move woodpiles far from the home.
- Keep plants, shrubs and branches cut back so they don’t touch exterior walls and provide cricket access.
- Use yellow bulb outdoor lighting which attracts fewer insects than white lights.
- Apply pesticide perimeter sprays around the home. Products with pyrethrins or bifenthrin can help deter crickets.
- Diatomaceous earth, borax or crushed eggshells around the outside foundation can prevent cricket entry.
- Install copper mesh screening in vents, roof valleys, attic openings and crawl spaces.
- Treat lawns and soil with beneficial nematodes that seek out and infect crickets.
With diligent prevention and monitoring, costly cricket infestations should not become an ongoing issue. Call pros at the first sign of cricket activity before populations spiral out of control.
Crickets can be an aggravating problem when they invade homes in large numbers. Many homeowners first turn to natural treatments like vinegar when seeking a non-toxic way to control infestations. However, scientific evidence on vinegar’s effectiveness against crickets is lacking.
While vinegar can repel and irritate crickets with its strong scent and acidic properties, it likely does not kill most crickets. Home remedies like diatomaceous earth, borax, essential oils, sticky traps and silica gel tend to be more lethal and drying to crickets. Vinegar is best used as one part of an integrated pest management plan.
However, professional pest control employing stronger chemicals is recommended to rid a home of an advanced cricket problem fully. Preventing future invasions through exclusion and habitat modification is also key. Vinegar can control crickets but should not be solely relied on when infestations become severe. A proactive, diverse approach works best against pesky cricket infestations.