Black field crickets - adults and nymphs. Photo: D. Ironside
Adult and nymph black field crickets feed on the leaves and stems of seedlings and may reduce a stand to the extent that replanting is necessary. They may damage cotton when present in plague numbers.
Both adults and immatures shelter during the day in cracks in the soil or under trash. They come out at night and feed on weeds, grasses or crops. In sunflower, the cricket feeds on the seedlings, on the back of the flower heads and on the maturing seeds on the face of the flower.
Adults are up to 30 mm long, winged, black or brown and have the head and mouthparts inclined downwards. The hindlegs are large and modified for jumping like grasshoppers. Nymphs are similar in shape but are smaller, paler and wingless. Small nymphs can have a white band across their back.
Widespread in Australia, common in cracking soils.
Many field crops, including most pulses.
Crops can be attacked at any stage. Crops in heavier soils are at greatest risk. Most damage is caused by crickets already in the area at planting or by adults flying into crops.
Significant damage may be caused by adults and nymphs feeding on leaves, stems and pods. When black field crickets are present in plague numbers, seedling crops can be thinned to the point where replanting is necessary. At podding, adults chew into pods to reach the seeds.
|Monitoring and action level|
Crickets feed at night, so inspect crops at dusk when crickets are most active. Black field cricket activity can be monitored with light traps.
Take action if significant cricket populations are present.
Cultural control: Weedy cultivation prior to planting may encourage crickets.
Natural control agents, including diseases, parasitic insects, and predatory birds and insects, appear to have little effect.
- Crop Insects: The Ute Guide Northern Grain Belt
- Pests of Field Crops and Pastures: Identification and Control. Editor: P.T. Bailey