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The sound of crickets — could it be a thing of the past?



Zelda Caldwell - published on 08/22/17

Conservationists are trying to save the chirping insects from extinction.

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While the world has focused on the dwindling bee population, the fate of the common field cricket has gotten far less press.

This makes sense — when pollinating honey bees are threatened, agriculture is threatened. However, a loss of the field cricket would mean that future generations may never get to hear what to many has been the sound of summer: crickets chirping in the evening.

According to a BBC report, over the last century changes in land management and the loss of natural habitat have caused a dramatic decline in the field cricket, Gryllus campestris, across northern Europe. By the 1980s, the report says, there were fewer than 100 individual critics in all of Great Britain.

But thanks to the efforts of conservationists who have been catching young field crickets and relocating them to new sites, the insect may be making a comeback.

“Extinction is something tragic,” Mike Coates of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), told the BBC. “These things have been around, they’ve been part of people’s lives here, they’ve been written about, they’ve been significant in that way for centuries.

“Are we really going to be the generation that loses them? That would be appalling.”

Coates and other conservationists at the RSPB’s Farnham Heath reserve helped establish a colony of around 300 crickets from only 12 individuals. The group is now working on establishing a second population at a new site in Surrey.

As for the bees, there is a spot of good news to report there too. After decades of decline, the number of U.S. honeybee colonies rose by 3 percent in 2017 from a year earlier, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture survey. The report also found that the number of hives lost declined by 27 percent in that time.

Read more:
How one Iowa city planted 1,000 acres of wildflowers to bring back the bees

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