A cricket is a tough bug to love. I say this despite knowing they’ve been revered as symbols of good luck in cultures around the world. Their cheerful chirping has made people so happy throughout the ages that the Chinese once put crickets in beautiful cages and kept them as pets inside their homes.
The crickets that controlled my basement did not make a sound. They lacked wings for making merry music and instead had extra-long legs for jumping directly at whatever frightened them – their only form of defense. With large humped and speckled bodies, they were far more suited to crawl spaces than gilded cages on the mantel.
The silent invaders of my home were camel crickets, also known as cave crickets.
When I first moved in, I empathized with their plight. I once spent hours freeing several that had trapped themselves in the tape from my moving boxes. One lost a leg, another a foot, but they were free, sort of.
Then I realized how bad the problem was – they were everywhere. Still, I didn’t want to kill them; partly because I’m kind, and partly because the thought of crushing their big bodies on my carpet grossed me out.
For a long time, I threw my hands up and stayed out of my basement. Whenever I walked downstairs to my laundry room, they jumped at me; and that was a very good defense, because it was scary. I once returned upstairs with a cricket inside my pants leg.
I considered fogging the whole place but didn’t want the chemicals everywhere. Instead, I became somewhat obsessed with the problem and told a lot of dramatic stories about how terrible and creepy the crickets were.
At some point, though, I tired of not being able to use half my home and hired an exterminator. They said their sprays were mostly non-toxic, and I needed the problem to go away. After the first visit, the exterminator left behind peanut butter scented glue traps in out of the way spots. Apparently, the spray alone wasn’t enough for these crickets.
The numbers on my carpet dwindled, and I could walk freely in my basement for once, but the bodies piled up on the glue traps. Just out of sight, there were mounds of crickets trapping themselves to die on top of other crickets that were already dying a slow death in deliciously scented glue. Disgusting.
I continued thinking about this problem and talking to people about how bad it was, and how gross. There were so many of them, and they didn’t seem to stop finding the glue.
What else could I do?
Finally, I realized the daily glue trap drama wasn’t going to end and decided to try a more Zen approach – I refused to see the crickets as a problem. I threw out all the glue traps, cancelled the exterminator, and made my own trapping device out of two plastic bins that once held miscellaneous items in the top of a cooler; one was solid plastic, the other perforated. Together, I could use them to scoop up a cricket from a somewhat safe distance and still see what it was doing inside.
From that day on, I no longer had a cricket problem. Whenever I saw a cricket, I just scooped it up, as carefully as I could, and carried it outside where it belonged, hopefully with all appendages intact. Most days, I had to do this multiple times in a row.
I stopped talking about how awful they were and thinking about them as an ongoing problem in my life.
And you know, they eventually went away – no sprays, no stomping bodies, no glue traps. Just scoop, carry outside, repeat as necessary, and move on with my day. I still keep my trapping device handy, but I rarely see one anymore. If I do, I just take it outside. No big deal.
They say whatever you resist in your life will persist. Maybe the crickets helped me learn that lesson in a way I couldn’t ignore; maybe they were good luck for me.