Dead crickets piled up outside of a building Thursday in downtown Waco.
(July 12, 2012)—The annual cricket outbreak arrived early in Central Texas and at some businesses Thursday workers were using leaf blowers to clear walkways of the insects.
Cricket outbreaks are most common in the late summer and fall when temperatures fall and precipitation increases after a period of hot dry weather, the Texas AgriLife Extension Service says.
The crickets that are crunching underfoot are collectively referred to as field crickets, the extension service says.
Field crickets lay eggs in the fall and the eggs remain in the soil throughout the winter, hatching in the spring, the extension service says.
A single female cricket may lay as many as 400 eggs.
It takes immature crickets about three months to develop and outbreaks occur after large numbers of cricket nymphs complete their development and embark on nighttime mating flights, the extension service says.
The reason so many tend to end up around homes and businesses is outdoor lighting.
The extension service says crickets are drawn to bright lights during the mating season and that means large numbers of the insects are drawn to big, brightly lit buildings.
One of the most effective means of controlling an infestation is either to turn out the lights or to replace them with low-pressure sodium vapor lights or yellow incandescent lights, which are less attractive to the insects, the extension service says.
Field crickets are primarily outdoor insects, the extension service says, and unlike house crickets they don’t breed indoors, but they can damage clothing, drapes and wall coverings.
Outside, however, dead crickets can pile up quickly, creating a headache for home and business owners.
Baits and insecticides can be effective against an infestation, but should be used as a partial measure in combination with a reduction in outdoor lighting, the extension service says.
The heaviest mating flights usually last only for a couple of weeks, the extension service says.