Eerie Cricket Thingy
Sat, Nov 8, 2008 at 11:07 AM
Yesterday a mysterious reddish-brown pill shaped object suddenly began emerging from the underside of one of our pet crickets. Looks like some sort of egg, but from what we can tell, cricket eggs don’t look like this. The cricket seemed healthy before this emerged, and was alive for a while when it first appeared, but now is dead. Could it be that some other insect such as a wasp laid its eggs inside the cricket as a host? I’ve heard of them doing this to caterpillars, but crickets? Or is it something else?
Paul and Stella
Hi Paul and Stella,
This is a new one for us and we will need to do some research. We will also try to contact Eric Eaton to see if he has an opinion. We, like you, suspect this is some type of internal parasite that has had its meal and is perhaps pupating outside the cricket’s body. It would be interesting to see what, if anything, eventually emerges. If we were betting, we would bet on a Tachinid Fly. Moments after we posted, we found an online article on a Tachinid Fly, Ormia ochracea, that parasitizes crickets.
The object protruding from the deceased cricket is indeed a fly puparium (the rigid last larval ‘skin’ enclosing a fly pupa). It could certainly be a tachinid fly, but there are also other flies that are parasitic on crickets, especially some members of the flesh fly family (Sarcophagidae). I’d personally be hard-pressed to identify even the adult fly once it emerges, though a dipterist (fly expert) could.
Update: November 18, 2012
Thanks to a comment just made by a reader with experience in Tachinid Flies, we are confident to report that this pupa belongs to the Tachinid Fly Ormia ochracea. This Cornell University article tells the fascinating account of this Tachinid Fly that uses sound to locate its host when the male Crickets call to attract females.