Oh Jody, my kingdom to be able to have crickets here. They don't live, it is too wet I guess. But on Vancouver Island (that is the only place that I have witnessed crickets in, at my Auntie's house when we were little children visiting) I know they live. It is much drier there than here. Oh, I love the sound of crickets.....I really do. I don't think that they mantis would live here either, you are so lucky.
About 20 years ago when my oldest gal had a very crazy boyfriend, some friends of his bought a bag of crickets and let them go inside his car for a joke. When I saw all these crickets I gathered as many as I could and tried to "grow" them at my place. So such luck, they must have all died and/or been eaten all up by the birds or something. Ooooh, how can I get crickets to live here.....hee, hee.
We have ladybugs that do the trick with the aphids. I have never in my life seen so many aphids and ladybugs as last year when I had the Fuller's Teasel growing. Such a beautiful and most magnificent plant. I am hoping that it will come up again this year, that is is a perennial, but I have some thoughts that it is a bienniel. I should have sowed some seeds for it last year, so I will this year and next year it will bloom. I would stand in awe at this plant, watching all the different breeds of ladybugs, it was something to behold.
The ladybug larvae are the biggest eaters of the aphids. Apparently they consume 50 times as much as the adults. The larvae are very cool, they look like orange and black little alligators. When I first used to see them on my corn silks, I didn't know what they were, I thought that they were some kind of eater bug and were destroying the silks, I found out later that they are the eater bugs, but they are eaters of bad bugs, hee, hee. Oh dear, I am ramblin', got lost in a few thoughts here. I am going to see if I can find a picture of the ladybugs on the teasel, but I am still going to post a picture of the teasel, I am going to put the one with me weeding in the teasel to show the height of this plant. This plant probably grew about 4 or 5 feet more, the bombus were absolutely nuts on it, the honeybees ignored it, too busy in the borage, anise and phacelia. Have that beautiful and wonderful day, what a great post you have started, hee, hee. Cindi