Crickets, Wasps Are Gone From San Gabriel Valley
From Charles Funaro
(My thanks to Charles Funaro and so many others who are helping to document and catalog the expanding extinction level event tied to Fukushima Radiation)
Reports from readers in other areas started me thinking about which insects have recently declined in the San Gabriel Valley (a suburb of Los Angeles). Crickets and wasps (both mud dauber and paper) and brown widow spiders immediately come to mind.
I am not sure when I last saw a cricket or a wasp or brown widow spider at our home, but all were abundant when I began spending time in this area six years ago (followed by marriage and consolidating households in 2017). The crickets in particular were evident as they hopped about in their hundreds, to the point that we dared not leave a door open for even a minute because some random cricket would seize the opportunity to join us inside.
I should add the curious absence of mosquitoes and horned caterpillars (i.e. white tomato moth) and dragonflies, although those might be a cyclical population variation. This July 4 we sat in the same place as in 2016 and 2017 to watch a fireworks display and there was not a single mosquito to be seen, as compared with previous years when almost everyone sustained bites despite the customary precautions.
Another conspicuously-absent pest is the housefly. So far, zero houseflies this year. With no houseflies, mosquitoes and crickets, we could (but we don't) leave our doors open without fear of insect invaders. It is easy to infer that the decline of crickets and caterpillars and flies would cause a corresponding decline in the wasps and spiders who prey on the others.
We still have black Argentine ants aplenty -- the recent heat wave caused them to invade the house and we have been battling them with non-toxic agents such as white vinegar and diatomaceous earth. Our efforts at avoiding pesticides do pay off in a yard frequented by birds and butterflies. But that brings to mind another missing member of our local ecology -- the green conyer. It is a type of parrot, not native to SoCal but a large established population, renowned for their irritatingly-raspy and penetrating call. A flock of dozens had noisily roosted in a tree about 300 feet west of our house, but they have virtually disappeared during the past year.
With a little more thought, I could probably identify more MIA species, but this is enough for now.