Cricket Information

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Phylum, Arthropoda; Class, Insecta; Order, Orthoptera

Identifying Features

Appearance (Morphology)

  • Brown to black
  • Front wing varying in length, covering half to entire abdomen
  • Antennae about as long as distance from head to end of abdomen
  • Wings held flat over body
  • Hind wings folded and hidden under leathery front wings

Adult Males and Females
Female with long ovipositor (ventrally attached) in rear (may appear as two pieces); both sexes have cerci (segmented, tail-like appendages attached dorsally). The wings are fully extended over the abdomen. Some species may not have wings.

Immatures (different stages)
Immatures look like adults, but do not have fully developed wings. Older nymphs may show development of wing pads. The female's ovipositor begins to show before it is an adult and increases in length with each successive molt.

Natural History

Food
Crickets are omnivores and scavengers feeding on organic materials, as well as decaying plant material, fungi, and seedling plants.

Habitat
Crickets live under rocks and logs in meadows, pastures and along roadsides. Many are nocturnal.

Predators
Spiders, some wasps, ground beetles, birds, small rodents and lizards are cricket predators.

Interesting Behaviors
To attract mates, males produce a sound made by rubbing their forewings against each other. The resulting chirping sound is picked up by the female's ears on her front legs. The chirp sounds are different for each species so that individuals can find their own species. Females lay eggs in the soil with their ovipositor.

Impact on the Ecosystem

Positive
Crickets breakdown plant material, renewing soil minerals. They are also an important source of food for other animals.

Negative
Crickets may injure seedlings and large numbers can be destructive. Males songs can be quite loud.

Collecting Live Insects

Where to Collect
Field crickets live in leaf litter, under or near logs or around damp places in gardens. In parts of the country, crickets can be pests and are abundant in homes, barns and gardens. If you need lots of crickets, you may wish to purchase them from a pet store. Check with the pet store to find out when the shipment arrives so that they will be fresh and healthly. Crickets can be purchased from: Berkshire Biological Supply Company, The Biology Store, Carolina Biological Supply Company, Connecticut Valley Biological Supply Co., Inc., and Fluker's Cricket Farm, Inc.

How to Collect
To collect crickets in the field, have the container ready. Your hand is the best tool to grab the cricket. Gently cup your hands around the cricket. If you don't want to touch the cricket, use a plastic container and allow the cricket to jump into the container. Quickly place the lid on before it jumps out. If it's in the house, you can place a glass over it and slide a piece of paper underneath.

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Lesson Plans Information Sheets Rearing Sheets Bibliography
Center for Insect Science Education Outreach The University of Arizona
Contact:CISEO
http://insected.arizona.edu
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