One reason you're seeing so many crickets? Our hot, dry summer.
People are reporting a lot of cricket swarms around Austin this year. Drought could be a reason.
You might have heard them chirping from the trees, seen them swarming around street lights or even stumbled over piles of them, expired and decomposing in city parks.
The crickets are back, and it seems like they’re everywhere.
Every year from late summer into fall, black field crickets emerge en masse in Central Texas. They fly around, mate and lay eggs before dying in sometimes stinky piles.
These crickets have actually been here for months. During the summer, they spend the daylight hidden underground, only to come out, often unnoticed, at night to feed.
When the days shorten they get bolder — flying about seeking mates (often with a shrill chirp) or congregating in large groups around light and water sources.
Recent rains have brought more food and water for the insects and provided great conditions for a mass emergence this year, says Wizzie Brown, an entomologist at Texas A&M Forest Service.
“A lot of insects are cued in on that,” Brown said. “They kind of slow down their metabolism, and then once environmental conditions are right they'll become active.”
But, she says, it’s trickier than you might think to determine what constitutes a “big year” for crickets. That’s because they tend to gather in “pockets.”
“Some places might have a few crickets,” she said. “Then there are other places where you just have this huge mass infestation.”
If there are more crickets than usual this year, you might thank our summer of extreme drought. Over the years, researchers have noticed cricket populations tend to explode after extended dry spells.
One reason could be that dry weather leads to “less fungal disease among eggs and cricket nymphs,” allowing more crickets to survive to adulthood, according to Texas A&M Agrilife Extension.
If you don’t like swarms of crickets in your vicinity, Brown has some simple advice: Turn off your outdoor lights.
"That way they're not attracted to it,” she said. "That will definitely cut down on any issues.”
In fact, the University of Texas even had to turn off its famed UT Tower lights years ago as a cricket mitigation measure.
Other tips to keep the crickets at bay include:
- Keeping entrances to your house sealed. The crickets wont be able to sneak in as easily if they see lights on inside.
Cricket mating season typically lasts one or two months.
Copyright 2023 KUT 90.5. To see more, visit KUT 90.5.