Gardens teem with cicadas and crickets

Cherry McLeod looks at all the cicada shells on her English Beech tree.
Cherry McLeod looks at all the cicada shells on her English Beech tree.

First it was wasps, then aphids, and now cicadas and crickets are being reported in bumper numbers around the region.

A nest containing thousands of wasps was found last month in a backyard in Normanby, one of many hitting headlines around the country.

The explosion in wasp numbers is aided by the rapid spread of giant willow aphids which produce honeydew, a favourite wasp food.

Now garden centres and pest control companies in New Plymouth are getting reports of gardens teeming with crickets and cicadas. Warm and dry weather over the last year is the reason for the boost in bugs, said Sandra Charlton of New Plymouth company PestAway.

"We haven't had a lot of rain and it's the dry grass. As soon as its cold they will slow down."

Mrs Charlton said farmers could treat crickets by laying cricket bait if they had an approved handler.

Those who want to quell the racket from crickets outside their home could put insecticide around the borders of their house, she said.

Mrs Charlton said crickets did no damage apart from make a din by rubbing their legs together.

Cherry McLeod of Fairfields Garden Centre said the English beech in her garden always attracted swarms of cicadas and this year the trunk and branches were covered in shells.

Mrs McLeod pointed out holes scattered around the base of the tree where the cicada nymphs feed on plant roots underground before emerging to shed their skin.

Cicada nymphs climb a support such as a tree branch or wooden fence where the nymphal skin splits along the back of the thorax and an adult emerges.

It hangs to allow its soft and crumpled wings to be pumped up to their full size and by the next morning the wings are hard enough for it to fly away, leaving behind the empty case.

Taranaki Daily News