Drought leads to cricket explosion in Manitoba, where serenading insects exhaust residents

Manitoba resident Collin Doyle didn’t imagine he would be serenaded by hundreds of chirping crickets on a hot summer night.

He says the constant noise is getting to him and others in Transcona, his Winnipeg neighbourhood.

“You can hear them through the window at night, but it’s 24/7. And they are loud, unbelievably loud,” said Doyle. “We aren’t talking one or two. It’s hundreds. Hundreds. The sheer volume of them is stunning. This is obviously abnormal.”

He even posted pictures of the insects on Facebook, calling it his cricket graveyard. Doyle is stomping on them while working in his garage. They invaded his mailbox and even made their way into his house under the flap of a bathroom vent.  

“If your door isn’t sealed tight they can get in under the crack. I thought by stomping on them those crawling nearby would smell the scent of death, but that’s not stopping them,” he said. 

While his situation is bad, he said his neighbours have it worse, and some have called in exterminators.

Population explosion

Taz Stuart, an entomologist with Poulins Pest Control, says they’re seeing an increase in calls from homeowners who want to get rid of crickets. Hot, dry weather has made conditions ideal for the population to explode.

Two other companies that provide extermination services, Abell Pest Control and Castle Pest Control, were too busy to respond to a phone call. 

“We are getting calls from people every day asking ‘How do we get rid of crickets in our house?’ ” said Stuart. “People are hearing the lovely noise that male crickets like to make to attract females and they are having a hard time sleeping.”

In 2020, Poulins received 130 cricket-related calls from Jan. 1 to Aug. 31 and 190 for the full year. This year, they’ve received 125 calls so far, but with five to 10 calls coming every day, Stuart anticipates they will far surpass 2020.

Poulins is hiring two additional employees to meet the demand not just for crickets, but for grasshoppers and mice, Stuart said.

Like rodents, Stuart says crickets like cracks and crevices. They are attracted to a food source, which could be crumbs on your floor from the garbage. They also like to shelter in dark, damp areas like crawl spaces in basements or garages.

Eradicating them could involve spraying exterior and interior areas with a registered liquid insecticide. In some cases, powder is used if there is a crack in the foundation. The insects will cross the line of powder and die. 

Crickets provide some benefits

Not everyone thinks the singing serenaders are a nuisance though.

“Crickets do more good than harm,” said John Gavloski, an entomologist with Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development. 

“They dig up grasshoppers eggs, eat weed seeds and are not a major crop pest.”

Stuart agrees and says crickets are part of the ecosystem.

“They are food for lots of animals — birds, bears, skunks. They are a food source and part of the food chain, and some people even consider them a delicacy if humans want to eat them.” 

Doyle has no plans to eat the crickets. He just wants them gone so he can get a good night’s sleep. But he’s been holding off on calling an exterminator. 

“I don’t know how long their life cycle is. I am just hoping they will peter out and be gone soon,” said Doyle. 

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