Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Anyone who's holidayed or lived in hotter climes will be familiar with the sound of cicadas. They chirp continuously like little birds, only it's their wings beating together that makes the sound. So that's what we thought we could hear serenading us these past few evenings (and all night if you're an insomniac). The other night we actually tracked one down, hiding in a tiny crevice in the wall by Browne House, with only its antenae showing. We've heard them all around Crossfields. But cicadas in London? How come?
We asked Nick Bertrand from Creekside Centre. He's recently been tweeting about the very same (Creekside witterings @creekside_trust). No, says Nick, they're not cicadas, they're House Crickets. He found one in his kitchen recently and initially alarmed he might have cockroaches, he caught it so that he could identify it properly. Nick says they are brought here from Asia and sold by pet shops as live food for reptiles and snakes. "The females don't sing, and that is not a stinger at the tail end, it is for laying eggs, which they clearly have been successfully doing. They're quite harmless, but the singing male House Cricket could drive you potty!"
In Thailand they are commonly eaten as a deep fried snack, whilst in China and Japan they are kept as pets! They live in brick and buildings, and the male sings to attract a mate. As the temperature rises their song becomes louder and faster, and love sick House Crickets may sing for hours on end.
Thanks for the pic, Nick, and for solving the mystery!