Volume 14, Issue 44 ~ November 2 - November 8, 2006

Where We Live

by Steve Carr

Home Invasion

It’s cricket season where I live

I have worked in various environmental businesses for most of my life, but I don’t know much about bugs. I’m guessing that a lot of you are pretty much the same. Bugs are not something we spend much time thinking about — unless they are biting us or causing some inconvenience, like eating away the foundation of our homes. That said, I do know that every bug fills some important environmental niche. And they have just as much right to be here as we do. As long as they don’t cause problems, I say live and let live.

Which brings me to crickets.

My house is crawling with crickets. I opened my drawer the other day to get a shirt, and out hopped a cricket. When I come out of the bathroom, they are waiting to greet me. There is no escape from the little buggers.

Let me say that my house is as clean and sanitary as the next, so their presence has nothing to do with cleanliness or neglect.

Through spring and most of the summer, my home was cricket free, but in mid-August it was suddenly like the invasion of the grasshoppers. I mean, that’s what crickets are, right? They are supposed to be hopping around in the grass, the fields or maybe the woods. But not inside people’s homes.

There seem to be two basic models. The big black ones that look like Batmobiles on the prowl and the big brown ones whose legs are jacked-up in the back like funny cars.

Who Knows?

Where do they come from? It really is a mystery how so many manage to work their way inside. Has anyone ever seen a cricket nest? And how do they all end up inside our houses? Were they hatched down in the basement by the cricket queen? Do they wait until we open the door and then hop inside unnoticed?

I don’t recall this being an issue until a few years ago. That’s when I started to notice them all over the place by summer’s end. Is this related to our weather? Could this have something to do with global warming?

As I was watching the World Series, 37 crickets danced in the blue-grey glow. It looked like the cricket Olympics in front of the tube. There were high jumpers, long jumpers and hurdlers.

As the crickets cavorted and flexed on the floor of my den, I wondered aloud, What do they eat in here?

Has anyone ever seen a cricket eating? What do they even like to eat? Smaller bugs? Whatever it is, they must find a lot of it, because they sure stick around. It stands to reason that if there weren’t a steady source of chow, they’d be somewhere else, like maybe outside.

There are still a lot of crickets outside. I was sitting on the patio the other night, enjoying one of the last warm evenings of the year, and it sounded like I was at a Crickets concert. One section was singing bass and the other soprano. Male and female? They were right outside the screen porch, clicking away incessantly, as if they wanted to come in. Maybe they were attracted by the light, or just horny.

Then it struck me that the ones inside the house never make any sound. Why do indoor crickets stay silent? Why don’t they scat-sing all night long like their outdoor pals? Mind you, I’m not complaining. Imagine how noisy our homes would be if the crickets were singing all the time.

I guess the bottom line is that crickets don’t seem to cause any harm. They are really good at getting out of your way, so you rarely step on one. They don’t leave a mess. For instance, I have never seen any cricket poop lying around — which is yet another cricket mystery. They don’t bite. They don’t give off some foul smell. They don’t seem to eat our food, like say, ants, or chew holes in our clothes, like moths. They just seem to want to play inside our houses with their friends and family. Come winter, they simply vanish until the following fall.

The next time I get bummed-out about all the crickets in the house, I’m giving thanks. What if this were Australia, where everything could kill you. Imagine what our daily lives would be like if crickets were venomous and hostile. Then again, we’d probably know a lot more about crickets.

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