Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Cricket Meter

I admit, that I am different than your traditional gardener. I try to create not only a garden that is asthetically appealing, but useful to critters. Lawn is not of much use to insect diversity. Therefore, I plant large amounts of space devoted to native trees, shrubs and perennials. The result is something that is asthetically pleasing to me, but isn't conducive to someone who has a distate for creepy crawlies.

One measure of success I had in appealing to the invertebrate class this last summer, is something I call "the cricket meter." Crickets chirp (rub their legs together) to call to potential mates. How loud and numerous the chirps, the more crickets you have in or near to your yard. I found it fascinating to go for walks after dark in my neighborhood and listen to how loud the crickets are from house to house. Inevitably, the houses with the most perfect and expansive lawns, the quieter it got. Proudly, my yard was a crescendo of cricket chirps, letting me know, atleast one of my gardening goals had a measure of success.

I once had a former neighbor complain to me about the number of bees in my yard. My response was, "if she planted a few more flowers in hers, maybe they'd stay on her side of the fence." She didn't really like my response. It is amazing to me, that with the voluminous number of pollinators I have in my yard, how infrequent bee/wasp stings are. Stings attributable to our native bumblebees? Zero. A periodic yellow jacket sting is just as likely in our neighbor's yard as it is in ours.

Let's learn to live with nature and appreciate it's amazing diversity and beauty. And if you see a gnarly looking caterpillar crawling on your bush, remember, you can't have butterflies if they don't start out as caterpillars.


  1. I can validate this post. I have some of the noisiest crickets - though I never thought about why. The Russian Sage is always full of bees, but we don't bother one another. I did get a yellow jacket sting last summer - they become pests. I do hang up a wasp trap near the patio to keep my grandchildren and guests from running indoors.

  2. Hi Becky. Good to hear from you. I rarely have trouble with bees, but yellow jackets? Particularly late in the year when they get really numerous and aggressive, even I start culling their numbers, and I'm pretty tolerant of bugs.