In Texas, it is not uncommon for certain insect pests to invade entire neighborhoods in the millions where they pose a tremendous nuisance to residents. These types of large scale insect pest invasions occur in response to particular climatic conditions and breeding patterns. For example, an entire population of moisture-dependent insects often abandon areas affected by drought in order to migrate en masse to more hospitable conditions in neighboring urban areas.
Love bugs are well known for invading populated areas in east and central Texas during May and September, but this does not occur every year. This is because the soil where female love bugs deposit their eggs must remain moist for the full nine month developmental period in order for healthy offspring to emerge and feed on dead grass and other sources of vegetation in urban and suburban areas. If a dry spell occurs during the ninth month developmental period, large scale lovebug invasions will not occur.
Texas field crickets are well known among residents for invading urban and suburban areas almost every year throughout much of the state. Female crickets lay eggs in firm soil during the fall, and the eggs overwinter before hatching nymphs come spring. Cricket nymphs develop into winged adults over the summer, and by fall, they indulge in mating flights, which brings them into urban and suburban areas where they gravitate toward artificial lights like street, porch and indoor lights. In recent years, the largest and longest lasting cricket outbreaks in Texas have occurred in the central part of the state. Last fall, some Austin businesses closed in response to the hazardous number of crickets in the city, including dead crickets matted to pavement, which makes walkways dangerously slippery.
It is unknown how climatic conditions influence the survival rate of cricket eggs. Some reputable sources state that fall cricket swarms are heaviest following wet springs and dry summers, while others state that the thickest swarms occur following dry conditions during both the spring and summer seasons. However, last year’s relatively heavy cricket outbreak in central Texas occurred after a particularly dry spring and summer season. While cricket eggs need moisture to survive, it has been theorized that dry conditions may allow a relatively high number of cricket eggs and nymphs to survive into fall because the fungal disease organisms that are known for killing eggs and nymphs die off in response to dry weather.
Have you ever slipped on a paved surface that had become caked with dead bugs?