Waco cricket population leaps in size

Local cricket populations have soared in number, leaving carnage in their wake all around Waco, including this parking garage. Photo credit: Jessica Hubble

By Megan Rule | Staff Writer

Halfway through the month of October, the cricket infestation is still going strong in Waco.

“The crickets at home don’t fly and aren’t as prevalent,” said Frederick, Md., sophomore Laura Casadonte. “I’ve never gone to the grocery store at home and seen a bug light by the doors that is solely for crickets.”

Walking through campus or downtown Waco, cricket corpses can be seen everywhere. Residents are finding dozens of them in their homes, and they’re covering the walls of buildings. These field crickets get their name because of their tendency to damage fields and crops, and they are most prevalent in the fall, according to Worldwide Pest Control.

“The crickets have invaded my life,” said Ardmore, Okla., senior Alex Davis. “They come in without invitation.”

According to Worldwide Pest Control, pest control in the Waco area is on high demand for these flying, dark-colored little crickets. The unique climate in Texas results in the massive cricket presence, although they can be found in all 50 states. During the late summer, field crickets seek the cool air that homes provide. In the fall and winter, they seek the warmth inside. Field crickets are attracted to bright lights and moist areas outside of buildings and homes. They also prefer areas with grass or shrubs.

“One morning as I was having my quiet time with the Lord on my porch, I was a few minutes in and quickly found crickets falling on my head. I have found them everywhere,” Davis said.

Male chirping is a telltale sign of crickets nearby, according to Worldwide Pest Control. Crickets are not dangerous in the sense that they do not spread diseases. However, they are quite a nuisance when found inside buildings or destroying crops.

“There is a seasonality to their cycles,” said McGregor doctoral candidate Dena Quigley, who teaches Biology as a graduate assistant. “We see an influx if we don’t get a cold winter because the cold winter kills off the eggs that could hatch. With winters becoming more mild and global warming, we could see more crickets in the years to come.”

Quigley said the best way to prevent the crickets is to have good seals on doors and windows. Also, natural predators can be a help, as geckos, lizards and frogs eat the crickets. There are geckos around Waco that will eat the baby crickets, but these natural predators are not common in urban areas as they need the greenery to hide in.

“The year I came to visit the school was a really bad year; there was even a sign at the hotel,” Quigley said. “But not every year is as bad. There could be a larger cycle at play, like the cicadas that come every 13 years.”

Some years seem to be worse than others depending on the winter freeze that Waco gets.

If there is a good freeze, then fewer of the eggs that were laid will hatch and survive to reproduce in the spring and summer seasons, Quigley said.

As days start getting shorter and cooler at night, crickets begin to die off. According to Quigley, the crickets shouldn’t be here for more than three more weeks.

“The cricket Waco plague will forever be remembered as one of the worst experiences,” Davis said.