Friday, March 23, 2012

Is This An Oak Defoliation Culprit?

Chaperral camel cricket; responsible for a naked oak tree?
  I received a picture of this guy in my email a week back from a local oak tree owner who was finding them on her now defoliated oak tree. Was this one of the infamous 'Gold Spotted Borers' whose occurrence here could spell doom for thousands of our Oak trees? Well, probably not as evidenced by this creatures large hind legs; do they look familiar? Yes, it does look like a cricket and, according to L.A. County Agricultural Commissioner's office entomologist Gavork Arakelian this is a native cricket known as the 'Southern California chaparral camel cricket'. It does eat leaves, but whether it's responsible for defoliating an entire oak tree is questionable. There are other insects that can cause defoliation including the California Oakworm, but many of those are summer pests and are inactive in the spring. Still, a closely related insect in Texas has been known to defoliate oak trees. So is this the culprit? Although I don't have enough information it is possible but not likely  because the Chaparral cricket is omnivorous, it will eat anything,  including oak leaves.
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