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Black field crickets

Black field crickets (Teleogryllus commodus) are an occasional pest in the winter rainfall zones of southern New South Wales, Victoria and parts of South Australia and Tasmania. They can cause significant damage to newly sown pastures and crops. Last season there were significant issues in early autumn in several areas of western Victoria.  

This year, we have again received reports of large numbers of black field crickets in numerous paddocks. Agronomy Consultant, Lee Connor (AGRIvision), reports that isolated paddocks in the southern Mallee (Victoria) are experiencing issues with crickets. There is concern for canola crops sown into paddocks while crickets are still active. Agronomist, Sarah Heazlewood (Gorst Rural Supplies), has also observed black field crickets across several paddocks surrounding Lake Bolac, in the Western district of Victoria. Cricket numbers will begin to decline in response to cooler/wetter conditions in late autumn and early winter.

Black field crickets are usually black or brown in colour. They have wings, long antennae and grow up to 30 mm in length. Crickets normally hide during the day, underneath clods of dirt or in soil cracks, and then become active at night. A good method for monitoring is to place hessian bags or something similar on the ground overnight, then check the next morning for crickets underneath. Several other species of crickets may be encountered in crops however black field crickets are the most common.

Damage to crops will most likely depend on the availability of food sources. The black field cricket can feed on a wide range of crop plants. Pasture grasses and legumes are very susceptible to cricket damage. In addition to pastures, crickets also have a preference for emerging cereal crops, sunflowers and soybeans.

Using insecticide-treated grain baits is a common control method for field crickets and is most effective when few alternative food sources are available. Spraying of broad-spectrum insecticides is less effective than baiting due to the crickets spending the majority of their time underground.

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