Texas black field crickets swarm UT Austin campus

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A cricket crawls up the steps of the UT tower on Monday, Oct. 14, 2019. Austin routinely experiences swarms of crickets in the fall, especially after a wet spring.

Photo Credit: Jack Myer | Daily Texan Staff

Along with cooler temperatures, the fall season is bringing swarms of crickets to the UT campus.

Alexander Wild, UT curator of entomology, said this mass emergence of crickets occurs annually but is more noticeable every few years after a wet spring brings a lot of plant growth.

“These are Texas field crickets, and they are normally around throughout the year,” Wild said. “But when they get a year where there is a lot for them to eat and warm temperatures for them to develop, then we see a lot more of them.”

Maria Pereira, arts and entertainment technology sophomore, said she always sees hundreds of crickets while walking to class or on a run, but she is not bothered by them because she knows this is a seasonal phenomenon.

“Normally, I go running in the mornings on the track, and I remember one cricket jumped up on my leg,” Pereira said. “It’s very uncomfortable and sometimes makes me (not) want to go running near the turf, but it’s also normal to see them for a little bit every year when the seasons change.” 

 

Mike Merchant, Texas A&M Agriculture & Life Sciences professor and extension urban entomologist, said he doesn’t know of another state that experiences larger swarms of crickets than Texas.

“The Texas black field cricket is a species unique to this state, and we have swarms like this every year,” Merchant said. “There hasn’t been much research done into why we have more crickets some years than others, but it is normal for us to have them.”

Merchant also said crickets normally navigate using moonlight, so they often confuse street lights with the moon. He said this causes crickets to congregate in urban areas, including around campus.

“People can spray pesticides around their businesses or homes where they don’t want crickets, but there isn’t much else to do,” Merchant said. “We do recommend turning off lights or reducing the amount of time they are on at night, so in the morning you won’t have as many crickets around them.”

Wild said although there are so many of these insects on campus, he wants students to know they are not dangerous.

“They don’t bite, they don’t sting and they don’t spread diseases,” Wild said. “Because there are so many of them that die, their bodies can pile up and smell bad, but that’s about the worst of it.”