Cricket, an insect related to the grasshopper. The cricket has long antennae (feelers) and a flat back with hard wing covers. It moves about in hops or in short, jerky runs. The males of some species have a roughened area on each wing cover and produce a "song," or chirp, by rubbing these areas together. Females have no song.
The common field cricket reaches one inch (2.5 cm) in length, with antennae adding another inch or so. It is glossy black or brownish. Crickets feed at night, eating plant materials, other insects, fungi, and human food. They sometimes become abundant enough to be a nuisance.
Crickets have been regarded as bearers of good luck by the people of many lands In some parts of Asia, people keep crickets as pets.Crickets are jumping insects related to grasshoppers.
For hundreds of years, people in parts of Asia have kept crickets as pets. Crickets are said to bring cheer and good luck to a home. They also provide lovely music.
The Chinese used to keep their pet crickets in small cages made of bamboo or wood. A cricket cage often contained tiny dishes for the insect’s food and water. Sometimes an owner would even give the cricket a little clay bed to sleep on. The owners might tickle the cricket with a rabbit’s whiskers to make it sing.
At one time, people in China walked around town with their pet crickets. Cricket owners often placed their pets in tiny containers, which they put in their pockets. People walking down a street in China could hear the cheery sound of crickets chirping.
On a summer night, you may hear the sound of “treet-treet-treet” coming from the trees. This is the high-pitched song of male tree crickets. These true crickets live high up in trees. Tree crickets often sing together—just like a choir.
Common field crickets are black. But tree crickets are white or pale green. Their thin, see-through wings make them look frail.
Tree crickets use their strong hind legs to hop from tree branch to tree branch. They feed mostly on very tiny insects called aphids (AY fihdz). Aphids kill plants by sucking out their juices.
The wingless ant-loving cricket is only 3/4 to 11/4 inches (19 to 32 millimeters) long. It lives in the dry parts of the western United States. It spends most of its time in and around ant nests. As many as 50 of these crickets can be found in a single nest at one time. What are they doing there? These crickets are trying to steal a meal from their hosts.
To get food, the cricket approaches an ant. Then the cricket makes a series of motions. Somehow the motions persuade the ant to spit up a drop of food.
The ants do not like the crickets as much as the crickets like the ants. The ants try to drive their unwanted guests out—every chance they get.
Insects lead very dangerous lives. The world is just full of predators. Insects have to be very clever just to stay alive. They use camouflage (KAM uh flahzh), warning calls, stings, bites, foul odors, and other ways to protect themselves.
Insects known as leaf rollers protect themselves another way. They hide in little shelters that they make from leaves.
The leaf-rolling cricket is a nocturnal insect. It feeds at night and rests or hides during the day. During the night, this cricket hunts aphids. But during the day, the leaf-rolling cricket hides out in a homemade shelter. This cricket makes its shelter by rolling up a leaf. Then it ties the leaf with a silklike thread from its mouth.
Have you ever explored a cave? If you have, you’re a spelunker (spih LUHNG kuhr)—a person who explores caves. And if you’ve ever explored a Texas cave, you may have seen—but not heard—the secret cave cricket.
Cave crickets are silent and wingless. Scientists do not classify them as “true” crickets. Cave crickets have very long antennae, and their long back legs make them excellent leapers.
The secret cave cricket that lives in Texas is little—no longer than 1 inch (2.5 centimeters). This cricket likes company. It can live in groups of up to 5,000 members. Cave crickets are not very fussy about their food. When night comes, these crickets leave the caves and eat anything they find.
The spotted camel cricket has a hump. And it has the word camel in its name. But that’s about all this insect has in common with a camel. Camels live on plains and in deserts. But spotted camel crickets prefer cool, damp caves— or even basements.
Did you ever see a dark brown cricket in a basement? If so, it may have been a spotted camel cricket. This insect commonly invades homes in the central and eastern United States and Canada.
Like the secret cave cricket, the spotted camel cricket has no wings. It is not a “true” cricket. But it is an excellent leaper, and it has very long antennae. If an enemy comes along, the antennae alert the cricket to the danger.
If it’s a mole cricket, it certainly can. This insect is like a well-designed digging machine. It has short, shovellike front legs. It also has a pointy head and a coat of fine hair. The hair keeps soil from sticking to its body as it digs.
Mole crickets are usually brown or black. They are about 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5.0 centimeters) long. The female lays her eggs in tunnels near the roots of plants. When the eggs hatch, the nymphs join the adults in eating the roots. The West Indian mole cricket—or changa as it is called in Puerto Rico—eats the roots of sugar cane. This hungry insect can cause a lot of damage to crops.
Although mole crickets live underground, they have wings and can fly. They often come to the surface on warm nights or when the soil is wet.
Crickets belong to the order Orthoptera. The three families of true crickets are Gryllidae (house, tree, and field crickets); Gryllacrididae (camel and cave crickets); and Gryllotalpidae (mole crickets). The common field cricket is Gryllus pennsylvanicus. The Mormon cricket belongs to the family Tettigoniidae and is not a true cricket.