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Wet boosts cricket season

Date

Larissa Nicholson

A male and a female cricket .

A male and a female cricket . Photo: Tamara Dean

They seem to be hopping and chirping all over Canberra, but experts say the capital is not about to be overtaken by swarms of crickets like those seen in Victorian country towns last year.

Rather, their number has returned to normal levels after the long drought.

You Ning Su, a cricket expert with the CSIRO, said cricket eggs cannot endure dry conditions, so the drought depleted the local population of the jumping insects before it ended in 2010.

''There's not particularly a lot this year … it's more than before, because we had a drought and that killed a lot of crickets,'' he said.

Mr Su said when crickets laid eggs they inserted them into the soil, and the eggs could remain there for a year or more, so good levels of rain this year and last year had ensured a healthy crop of crickets.

Some types of crickets may venture inside houses to escape the heat during the day and others were attracted to lights at night, he said. Crickets were relatively harmless, the larger ones could bite if picked up, but they were unable to inflict much damage, and backyard gardeners could rest assured the little creatures posed no threat.

''They won't really do damage to the garden, they don't really need the fresh leaves or anything, they just need a little bit of this and that,'' he said.

Those kept awake by crickets chirping were overhearing a mating ritual, Mr Su said, with male crickets using the song to attract females and ward off rivals.

In March last year, millions of crickets swarmed into northern Victorian towns, munching their way through piles of newspapers and forcing retailers to shut up shop to fumigate.

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