From Our Newsletter
The Occasional Visitor
By Joan Sarlatte, MGAC Class of 2018
It’s funny how you don’t notice things until they return. In early August, when I went to bed, I noticed the summer noisemakers were back and that I hadn’t heard them for two or three years? Their cacophony was an annoyance when I heard them when I moved to my house 29 years ago, but now they’re part of the soothing sounds of late summer nights. Honestly, I never saw them, just heard them, so I didn’t know what insect it was — cricket or grasshopper? So I looked it up; thanks, UCANR.
Crickets and grasshoppers are commonly confused with one another. While the two insects are both members of the Orthoptera order and share some similarities, there are actually a number of differences between crickets and grasshoppers that make it relatively easy to tell them apart.
The best way to tell the difference is that they chirp at different times of day. Mystery solved! My nightly visitors are crickets. The big difference is that grasshoppers are diurnal and active during the day. They are more likely to stridulate when the sun is out. Meanwhile, most crickets are nocturnal. Their chirping sounds are more likely to be heard after the sun goes down. Anatomically, the main difference between a grasshopper and a cricket is that crickets tend to have long antennae; grasshoppers have short antennae.
Crickets are omnivores. They eat aphids, bug larvae, seeds, grass, fruit and flowers. Grasshoppers are herbivores, and with their chewing mouth parts they eat plant stems, flowers, seeds, and young plants. Squash and tomatoes are least preferred. Not so good if you have too many squash, but good for your tomato crop! Garden damage usually occurs a few weeks in early summer when weeds dry up. However, during major outbreaks, grasshoppers will feed on almost any green plant, and damage may occur over a considerably longer period.