By Andy Sevilla
A perceived problem all too evident throughout Kyle now has roiled high-ranking city officials and visitors to the Kyle Police Department as crickets have taken over the building.
“Each morning, we have several hundred new crickets throughout the (KPD) building and many are falling from the ceiling throughout the day,” Kyle Police Chief Jeff Barnett wrote in a Sept. 16 email to Parks Director Kerry Urbanowicz.
In the last week alone, several visitors in the building complained about the smell, the sounds and the sight of the cricket infestation, Barnett wrote.
“To attend the initial meeting of the sixth Class of the Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association (on Sept. 16 at KPD) and see squeamish women and men because of the plethora of crickets in the restrooms, on the floors, walls, etc., and the stench of the multitude of them in the walls, it was indeed a source of embarrassment,” Kyle resident Dallas Lee wrote in a Sept. 17 letter to the Kyle council.
Lee, who highlighted in his letter his 40-year career surrounding environmental services, told the council the cricket infestation poses a legal liability.
“Should a citizen, upon visiting the Station, be ‘caught off guard’ by a/several crickets jumping on them while they are there; fall, trip, and/or injure themselves, and, then determine that we have done not anything remotely close to eradication, it is and will be a lawsuit waiting to happen,” Lee wrote in his letter to council.
The cricket population at KPD surfaced as a concern during the renovation of the former Wells Fargo Bank building into a police department in 2013.
“I headed up the renovation, and with limited funds at that,” Interim Kyle City Manager James Earp said in a response to Lee. “I tried to address the chronic cricket problem then, but did not receive support to use a certified professional exterminator. Now that I’m in the driving seat, I am rectifying that.”
A professional pesticide contractor was hired to service municipal buildings on Sept. 22, the soonest date a contractor could begin work, according to staff communications.
“We know that it [the cricket problem] is simply that time of year, but any help is appreciated,” Barnett wrote to Urbanowicz in his Sept. 16 letter.
Urbanowicz initially suggested forwarding Barnett’s request on to the city’s maintenance division manager, but under the direction of Earp, a contractor was hired.
“This is so frustrating. Please consider a real exterminator,” Earp asked of Urbanowicz in an email.
Dane Gibbs, owner of A Better Choice Pest Control in Buda, said crickets are prevalent from mid-August through mid-October.
“They (crickets) swarm every year at this time,” he said. “They are migrating and coming out of the fields, and they’re very attracted to the lights.”
And while, Gibbs’ company is not involved in helping KPD rid itself of the crickets in their building, he said that despite any extermination efforts, any crickets inside the walls will remain inside dead and will contribute to a foul smell.
“They have a lot of protein, so when you have a lot of them, it smells like dead rodents,” he said. “The smell can be similar to rotten meat.”
For now, it remains unknown the effect an exterminator will have on the cricket population at KPD, officials said.
“Truth be told, we likely won’t know how successful Monday’s (Sept. 22) approach will be until next year, but somehow, someway I will continue to attack this problem until it is dealt with,” Earp said in his Sept. 19 email response to Lee.