Spring Field Cricket Observations

by Carl Strang

There are indications that the season for spring field crickets is winding down. That is not surprising, given the early start that this year has given to insects, but it means suspending my driving survey until the fall field crickets are singing. I was able to cover a large part of western DuPage County in the time I had, though, and I was able to make some observations.

Only rarely were spring field crickets to be found away from areas dense with tall grasses.

Thus forest preserves, railroad corridors and some highway corridors were the most consistent places where I heard spring field crickets singing, and all high-density clusters of the insects were in such locations. That is not to say, however, that all fields with tall grasses had crickets.

One obvious example is the friary site at Mayslake Forest Preserve, which was bare soil until recently seeded with grasses.

History appears to be important here. Spring field crickets would seem to have limited dispersal ability, and local extinction is not readily followed by new invasion unless a source population is really close. This gives an inkling of what may differentiate the spring and fall field crickets. Spring field crickets overwinter as relatively vulnerable nymphs, and need more robust shelter from severe winter conditions. Fall field crickets overwinter as eggs, relatively safe as they are buried in the soil. This allows them to live in a wider variety of places, and makes them less susceptible to local extinction. At least now I have a hypothesis to work with.

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