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Indeed, one can be practical and ask -- what good does this group of animals do for me? And one could also address the ineffable values of culture, aesthetics, and the value of all living things.

As a group, these creatures are largely plant eaters (most katydids) or omnivores (most crickets). Their relatives, the grasshoppers, are notorious crop pests, but few of this group ever get into situations that would elevate them to the pest level. They live in trees, shrubs, meadows, and on the ground. They are part of the web that interconnects the natural world, they eat and are eaten, their lives affect and are affected by the environment, populations increase and decrease as the elements of their interdigitated world shift, grow, and retract. Their removal or loss from a region alters that region's capabilities, just as the removal of bricks from a house makes it more vulnerable to collapse.

Yet, we have no measures, no census, no accounting of the status or health of the cricket and katydid part of the world. We have little understanding of anything but the general shape of their individual distributions. We know so very little, in fact, that new species are still being found under our noses in Eastern North America. Any survey of populations would therefore be a benefit, marking the health of an area and forming a foundation for future comparisons.

Ah, and they sing! How unusual, how special...of the millions of insects in the world, the smallest proportion makes sounds, and an even smaller proportion make sounds that people can hear. Of this handful, a few have so met our aesthetic needs that they have become pets, scripts for poems, and part of what it is to love and enjoy summer. Often we never know them in any acknowledged way, they simply are part of the fabric of where we live and visit. Their loss would diminish us, but it would be hard for us to name the time and place in which the changes occurred in something so subtle, it would be as if brooks gradually lost their ability to babble; wind to sluice through pines.

Further in Summer than the Birds...
Emily Dickinson

 Further in Summer than the Birds
 Pathetic from the Grass
 A minor Nation celebrates
 Its unobtrusive Mass.

 No Ordinance be seen
 So gradual the Grace
 A pensive Custom it becomes
 Enlarging Loneliness.

 Antiquest felt at Noon
 When August burning low
 Arise this spectral Canticle
 Repose to typify

 Remit as yet no Grace
 No Furrow on the Glow
 Yet a Druidic Difference
 Enhances Nature now

Crickets are not Optional

Cricket Crawl | Top | Instructions | Downloadable Data Form | Discover Life