Founder’s Forum: Crickets, Grasshoppers & Feral Cats

J.B. Lester

By J.B. Lester

I have seen photos and film clips of the feral cat population roaming around historic cities in Italy but never really came to understand the wild felines. Then a year ago we had a feral cat birth her litter under our front porch in Webster Groves. When they became weaned, we took some to the Humane Society and kept two to join our family. We were never able to catch the mother who was very wild and wouldn’t come close enough to snatch up. We were hoping to get her spayed and then released. But alas, the best laid plans… Two litters later she is back with more kittens romping around on our front porch. We are now hatching a new plan to capture the momma and her kittens in a large pet carrier in hopes that we can put a stop to this perpetuation of the feral cat population. We do feed them, they are so dang cute. But capture and spay/neuter we must. Especially before the winter comes. 

It has been one weird summer for my garden. My gourd plants didn’t make it and my tomato plants are just now bearing fruit. It has been either flooding rains or days with a barren rain barrel. And the population of crickets in our yard has brought me to wonder what elements it takes for a cricket boom. I was also so surprised to see so many more grasshoppers than ever before. I imagine the same conditions that crickets love, so do the grasshoppers. There must be fewer birds to eat these insects? Maybe the feral cats are eating the birds and thus we have more insects. There is certainly an order to life. And when one part gets disrupted, the balance of nature becomes skewed. 

The goldfinches are back and eating the dried echinacea. ( I guess they don’t like crickets or grasshoppers). So bright and yellow. How did they get the name goldfinch anyway. They should be called yellow finches. They dart and flit about and bring a flash of color to our yard. The butterfly population is down, and I have only seen a few monarchs and tiger swallowtails this year. The smaller butterflies are ample, but the larger ones are scarce despite our many butterfly bushes. 

I hope the weather stays warm for another two weeks so I can harvest my late-blooming tomatoes. The lower humidity dries things out this time of year. That’s what autumn is all about, I guess. For now, we are shelter to five gray feral kittens and a very tired momma cat. The seasons will shift, and we will celebrate the last harvest and prepare for the colder months. Halloween for the kids, seasonal brews and vintages for the moms and dads. The gardens will go fallow, and we will remember the crickets, the cats and the grasshoppers of the Summer of 2022.