Several people have recently reported noticing an abundance of small (3/8 inch long) crickets. These runts of the cricket world are called ground crickets, or pygmy field crickets. Ground crickets are a separate taxonomic group from the typical (and larger) black field crickets. They are not just smaller individuals or immature of the usual field crickets. When you look closely you see these are fully-grown adults with wings (as you will recall, only adult insects have wings!).
Ground crickets look like "regular" crickets except for the very small size. Check out the BugGuide website for photos of ground crickets.
As with everything else crickets vary greatly from year to year and place to place. It’s possible that the moist weather last fall and the snow-covered winter were conducive to their reproduction and survival, though I don’t know exactly how.
Ground crickets are not as well known as the field crickets (probably because of their size). As with the black field crickets, ground crickets are attracted to lights and very large numbers may be present on the pavement under street lights and store lights in the early night. Ground crickets are scavengers and feed on a wide variety of plants and other insects. Ground crickets are generally not pests of crops, gardens or landscapes. Control in the lawn and garden is not usually warranted.
Ground crickets may be annoying under lights and may wander indoors as accidental invaders, though they are not as consistently a pest as are the larger, better known (and noisier) field crickets. Large numbers of ground crickets inside the house could result in damage to fabrics, paper and other household materials. Sealing cracks and gaps to exclude accidental invaders is recommended as are perimeter sprays of residual insecticide (applied outdoors to sills, thresholds and potential entry points). Ground cricket males chirp (as do the black field crickets) though the sound is much higher pitched and is a trill rather than a chirp.
Click on the Music of Nature website for a recording of the male ground cricket song.
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