With snow on the ground as I write this, it is hard to believe that April is only a month away.
That’s the time that the young Field Crickets become active and emerge from their sandy burrows to feed and grow. By late April or early May they are ready to undertake their final moult and become adults.
It’s also the time when we’ll be catching a few of them, under licence, and moving them to new sites, within the Back from the Brink project.
The catching technique is known as ‘cricket tickling’ and requires some skill and a lot of patience! Taking a blade of stiff grass we gently push it down the burrow and twiddle it until a cricket grabs hold. Then we gently tease the cricket up to the surface and try to catch it in cupped hands.
At least that’s how it goes in theory. In practice you can spend a long time on your hands and feet without a ‘bite’, as the fishermen would say.
Field crickets dig several burrows as they move around the sites and sod’s law says the one you’ve found is empty. But patience makes perfect – just as the local boys in Gilbert White’s day found when they used the same technique in the grassy heaths around Selbourne.