Cricket invasion hits parts of East and Central Texas

Writer: Steve Byrns, 325-653-4576, s-byrns@tamu.edu
Contact: Dr. Michael Merchant, 972-952-9204, m-merchant@tamu.edu

DALLAS – The current cricket invasion many are experiencing in parts of East and Central Texas isn’t particularly unusual, but the timing is, said a Texas AgriLife Extension Service entomologist.

Dr. Michael Merchant, AgriLife Extension urban entomologist at Dallas, said he’s had a number of reports from Central and East Texas folks concerned with the high number of crickets they’re seeing this year.

Crickets are invading much of East Texas earlier than normal. Texas AgriLife Extension entomologists say early warm temperatures and recent rains triggered the cricket flight. (Texas AgriLife Extension Service photo by Kathleen Phillips)

“I attribute this to early warm temperatures and recent rains that serve as a trigger for cricket flights,” Merchant said. “This is the earliest cricket infestation that I can recall though. We usually have cricket swarms following our late summer and fall rains.”

Merchant said cricket outbreaks are among the most predictable pest occurrences in Texas. Most of the invaders are black field crickets belonging to the Gryllus assimilis complex.

“We usually see this phenomenon in August and September when our typical summer drought is broken by rainfall and cooler temperatures,” Merchant said. “That’s happened earlier this year, leading to the high numbers we are seeing now.”

Merchant said field crickets are outside insects which don’t breed or live indoors, so the chance of damage is minimal.

“During severe outbreaks, like some are having now, they can become a nuisance around homes and businesses due to the sheer numbers. They swarm up walls, over sidewalks and eventually die, causing an unsightly mess and foul odors,” he said.

Merchant said home and business owners can greatly reduce the onslaught by turning off outdoor lights that attract the insects. He said bright outside lighting is the leading cause of high cricket concentrations.

“If it’s practical, just turn off your outside lights as early in the evening as possible or replace the bulbs with low-pressure sodium vapor lamps or yellow incandescent ‘bug lights’ which aren’t as attractive to crickets as brighter light sources.”

Merchant said it’s also important to seal all entry points to your home, especially those near bright lights. He recommends using steel or brass wool as a temporary barrier, because it’s easily stuffed into weep holes, cracks and other entry points, but doesn’t hinder needed air flow.

“Insecticides should only be considered as a last resort due to safety and environmental concerns, and even then only as a partial solution to the problem,” Merchant said. “Insecticides should be used with reduced outdoor lighting for best results. Crickets drawn to bright lights will continue to cause problems no matter how much insecticide is used.

Texas AgriLife Extension entomologists say heaviest cricket mating flights, which is what these infestations are, only last a week or two. (Texas AgriLife Extension Service photo by Kathleen Phillips)

“The good news is the heaviest mating flights, which is what these infestations are, only last a week or two. If this naturally occurring invasion gets on folks’ nerves too bad, I recommend they catch a few for bait and go fishing!”

For more information on crickets and other insects go to http://citybugs.tamu.edu .

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