Yesterday, massive amounts of crickets descended upon urban and residential areas of San Antonio, causing fear and disgust among many residents who literally could not help but notice the insects piling up on sidewalks, streets, lawns and large parking lots around well lit shopping centers and grocery stores. Molly Keck, a local entomologist for the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, stated that the extension office was flooded with calls from residents asking about the sudden cricket invasion. According to Keck, 2012 was the last time San Antonio saw a cricket invasion as widespread and as heavy as the current one.
The cricket invaders are attracted to artificial light sources, so they are abundant around well lit businesses and they are attracted to street and porch lights in residential areas. Since businesses have to leave their lights on well after sundown, massive cricket congregations will remain a nuisance in urban areas, particularly around gas stations and strip malls. However, Keck recommends that San Antonio residents shut their outside lights off before sundown in order to prevent crickets from swarming onto properties and into homes. Making sure to keep outside lights off now will prevent the insects from habitually invading residential properties, as experts believe that the cricket hoards will remain a significant insect pest issue in the city for the next few weeks. Experts do not yet know if another cricket population explosion will occur, or if the existing cricket scourge will simply die out in a few weeks.
Area-wide cricket invasions usually occur in cycles, but this year’s cricket invasion in San Antonio was partly precipitated by prolonged dry spells during the summer in the city. When the air becomes exceedingly dry, a type of soil-dwelling fungus that normally kills cricket eggs fails to grow. The largely dry summer in San Antonio this year may have allowed an unusually large amount of cricket eggs to survive and mature into adulthood. In addition to shopping centers and neighborhoods, crickets are also congregating on the local Texas A & M campus.
Have you ever been pestered by the sound of chirping crickets within your home?