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Garden Allies: Crickets

Articles: Garden Allies: Crickets

Recently, I received a lovely children’s book, Cricket in the Grass, illustrated and written by a gardening friend. The cricket in the title makes an appearance only at the beginning of the wordless story as a passing toad eats it! The toad soon meets a similar fate. And so the chain continues, a lesson in the importance of all creatures—field, forest, or garden—in the food web. While we often equate garden allies with “good bugs” that eat “bad bugs,” ecologically speaking, it is more accurate to think of them as prey and predators.

Orthoptera, which include grasshoppers, katydids, and crickets, almost always fall into the category of prey. While a few species may cause damage—sometimes extensive—most are fairly innocuous and serve as an important food source for many species of birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles. Orthoptera are also nutritious food for people in numerous cultures around the world. High in protein and low in cholesterol, entomophagy (the eating of insects) is becoming increasingly accepted as we seek ways to feed a hungry planet.

Grey bird grasshopper (Schistocerca nitens) Illustration: Craig...

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