Saturday, February 12, 2011

It’s not cricket.

Depending on the season we rural dwellers are visited by various insects each summer.  Where I live, this year the flies are bad during the day and night time brings even more unwelcome little visitors. 

When my English visitors were here a couple of weeks ago, we had an invasion of little click beetles.  They are tiny, between 7.1 and 9 mm long and only about 2 mm wide.   If one lands on its back, it is able to use a click mechanism between the two parts of its shell to jump up to 30 cm, thus righting itself, making an audible, and very annoying, click.   (Another name for them is Skipjacks.) I’d rather have the windows and doors open than turn on a fan but am learning to close them before dark.  These beetles are so tiny they seem to get into the house wherever there is a light on.   So if you don’t want any of their antics in your bedroom as you sleep, it pays to close the windows, draw the curtains and close the door before dark, then prepare for bed without turning on the bedroom light.

I think my niece would not be at all a happy camper if she were here now.   This has recently turned into a bumper year for crickets as well.   Actually,  I don’t mind the click beetles too much, as long as I can keep them out of my bedroom.  

But the crickets are a different story altogether. 

I don’t know why but I like my bedroom door to be open when I’m asleep.  Probably comes from the days of needing to hear if a child woke in the night, or if my youngest was up and at her sleep walking tricks.
 
And for the past three nights I been woken by the chirp of crickets coming from the kitchen.  

When I first arrived in NZ , I saw first hand the damage they do to grasslands.  These are black field crickets and they are a problem to farmers in Northland, Auckland, parts of Taranaki, and Hawke’s Bay. Eggs are laid in moist soil from February to May, and nymphs (immature adults) emerge from November to January. Adults appear from February and live for two or three months. They inhabit cracks in the soil and eat surrounding crowns of grasses, which usually die. During long drought periods the growing crowns of grasses are attacked; this often kills the plants and leaves the soil open to weed invasion.   When they invade, they can leave a paddock of what was lovely pasture totally denuded.  

So I don’t like them.  And anything that interrupts my sleep automatically goes on my enemy list.  For the past few nights I’ve stalked the noisemakers.  The minute I turn on a light they stop but if I leave it on and go back to bed, they must get accustomed to it and start up again.   I creep down the hall in the dark and listen carefully but always, when I get two steps from the fridge, they stop.  They must have extremely sharp hearing because my creep has been getting slower and slower, almost to the point where I drop off back to sleep between steps.  But still they hear me!

Today I decided I’d had enough, the crickets had to go.  Not wanting to disturb them, every ten minutes or so I moved the fridge out from the wall by about an inch.  So that I wouldn’t forget my vendetta I defrosted the fridge at the same time.  The deep freeze part at the bottom of the fridge really did need doing!  I thought if there was constant movement in the kitchen they would get used to it and may not get any hint of their impending doom. 

I had the fridge almost  completely away from it’s usual position before I spotted them.  Only two of them!  I thought there were a whole colony or whatever it is that crickets come in.  

Let me assure you, I had intended to be humane.  But they were too far apart, if I’d caught one the other would have escaped.  They may not be outside now cheeping away but their end was quick.  

They looked just like this – only flatter!
Black Field Cricket
Photo courtesy of Kiwicare website.

9 comments:

  1. Yuck! While we were in Hawaii over Christmas we were invaded much the same way by something similar. Very tiny, almost like a little flea or no see em. They came flooding into the light if we forgot the screen. We get Mormon crickets here and they will destroy everything, just as you said.

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  2. They would look flatter. It's been stomped on causes that.
    I was expecting to see a gold flag waving in the middle of your kitchen.
    A very entertaining post.

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  3. Every place has its bugs - I hate spiders!

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  4. Well I can't feel at all sorry for them. They look nasty little things. (Very disruptive!)
    I hadn't thought NZ had nasty pests like this.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

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  5. Nancy, I love the no see em description!

    Adrian, that is the funniest comment I've ever received. Had me chuckling for ages.

    Oh Pondy, my dislike for crickets pales in comparison to my fear of spiders. There are only a couple here that will hurt you and then not badly but my childhood fear of horrible, dangerous spiders in Australia remains.

    Maggie, I guess every place has its nasty pests!

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  6. I've not encountered the Black Field Crickets here in Hawkes Bay but I met (ie they kept flying into me) plenty up in the Bay of Plenty last week. There's a few less there too now! The Common Click Beetles are very common here though too (another Aussie import!).

    Mike had the bedroom window open on Friday night and was rewarded with thee mossies! I've not noticed one before. The spare bedroom window now has a bug screen!

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  7. Pauline, your story telling is a true gift - I swear I could see those crickets!

    Thanks for the Stylish Blogger Award but I have to confess that I don't pass awards along. I hope you'll forgive me. Can I send you some snow as a wee gift?! Elaine

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  8. Well have you done ... :)
    Greetings

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  9. Pauline...you crack me up! I too will stalk crickets at night...those little buggers drive me insane. I am not really a cat person but have thought about getting one just to kill the crickets. Nothing can push me over the edge quicker than a cricket chirping when I am trying to sleep!

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