You may have heard more chirping in the last few weeks in the Portage area than usual. Crickets are abounding somewhat more than usual, and entomologist John Gavloski with Manitoba Agriculture says it happens every few years and explains why.
"Crickets are much like grasshoppers in the way their cycles work," notes Gavloski. "You get some hot, dry years. It tends to favour their populations a bit. They build up. So, we're coming off a few of those years. We're just at a high point in the cricket cycle. We're talking about field crickets. Actually, there are lots of different types of crickets. What we're talking about here is fall field crickets mainly. They're the ones that we're seeing in big numbers."
He says the right conditions allow for their population to build and they start to peak.
"There are lots of predators, parasites and things that do feed on crickets," continues Gavloski. "Over time, they may take the population down a bit and then they go in these cycles."
Gavloski notes they're eating crops that they typically don't see crickets eating, such as canola, wheat, and flax.
"In most cases, it's not an economical issue," notes Gavloski. "There are a few cases where people are treating them around their field edges. For the most part, crickets are not a harmful insect. Some people like the chirping and others don't. There are big numbers of them this year, and people are taking note of them due to their chirping."