Unveiling Cricket Adaptations: Secrets to Surviving in Diverse Settings

Crickets are fascinating insects with a range of unique adaptations that help them survive in various environments. These adaptable creatures possess several distinct features, such as their long antennae, large back legs, and ability to produce a signature chirping sound. Their physical traits not only aid in their ability to navigate their surroundings, but also play a crucial role in their mating rituals and communication with other crickets.

One notable adaptation in crickets is their chirping method, which involves rubbing their wings together to create sound. This technique, used primarily by male crickets, serves as a means to attract females for mating. Interestingly, the chirping frequency is also affected by temperature, as a cricket’s body temperature is dependent on its environment. This means that crickets can essentially convey their surroundings’ temperature through their chirping.

Furthermore, the large back legs of crickets provide them with the ability to hop impressively long distances. This skill is crucial for escaping predators and traversing uneven terrain. Additionally, crickets are known for their single generation per year life cycle in places like Minnesota, and their limited ability to reproduce indoors. This, in turn, helps them maintain a healthy population size and avoid infesting indoor spaces.

Types of Crickets and Their Habitats

Field Crickets

Field crickets are commonly found in various natural habitats, such as:

  • Gardens
  • Fields
  • Meadows
  • Grasslands
  • Roadsides

They are known to be excellent singers and can be black, brown, or tan in color. These crickets have large heads, hind legs adapted for jumping, and stout spines on their hind legs.

House Crickets

House crickets, as their name suggests, are often found in and around human dwellings. These crickets are yellowish-brown in color with three dark stripes on their head. They usually hold their wings flat over their backs and are approximately one inch or less in length.

Camel Crickets

Camel crickets are another type of cricket that can be found in a variety of habitats. These crickets are distinctive due to their humpbacked appearance, resembling a camel. Camel crickets are usually found in damp, dark environments like basements or crawl spaces.

Comparison Table

Cricket Type Color Habitats Distinct Features
Field Crickets Black, brown, tan Gardens, fields, meadows, grasslands, roadsides Excellent singers, strong hind legs for jumping
House Crickets Yellowish-brown Human dwellings Three dark stripes on head, wings held flat over back
Camel Crickets Varies Damp, dark environments Humpbacked appearance, prefers dark and moist locations

Physical Adaptations

Wings and Chirping

Crickets possess wings that serve many purposes. One of their main functions is to produce the characteristic chirping sound. Male crickets create this sound by rubbing their wings together to attract female mates or to establish territory.

  • Function: Chirping to attract mates and establish territory
  • Created by: Rubbing wings together

Legs and Jumping

Crickets have large, strong legs that equip them for jumping and hopping. Their back legs, in particular, enable them to escape predators or move efficiently across various terrains. These legs contribute to their impressive jumping abilities, which allow them to cover up to 20 times their body length in a single leap.

  • Function: Jumping and hopping for movement and escaping predators
  • Capability: Jump up to 20 times their body length

Antennae and Sensing

Crickets have long antennae that serve as sensory organs. These antennae help crickets detect their surroundings and communicate with other crickets. Furthermore, their antennae contribute to their ability to smell and find food.

Major Cricket Physical Adaptations:

Adaptation Function Notable Feature
Wings Chirping Sound created by rubbing wings together
Legs Jumping and hopping Jump up to 20 times their body length
Long antennae Sensing and communication with others Helps detect surroundings and locate food

By studying these physical adaptations, we can better appreciate how crickets have evolved throughout time, allowing them to survive and thrive in different environments.

Behavioral Adaptations

Mating and Reproduction

Male crickets are known for their distinctive singing to attract a mate. They achieve this by rubbing their wings together. Examples of cricket song variety include:

  • High-pitched chirps to attract a mate
  • Aggressive chirps to ward off rival males

Female crickets, on the other hand, possess a sword-like egg-laying device extending from their abdomen for reproduction purposes 1.

Feeding and Predation

Crickets are omnivorous creatures that feed on both plants and other insects, adapting their diets according to availability. Some common food sources include:

  • Decaying plants
  • Fruits and seeds
  • Smaller insects

Crickets also benefit from their large back legs, which help them jump or hop to escape predators or catch prey 1.

As for their interactions with predators, crickets have developed key behaviors to evade danger and minimize predation, such as:

  • Camouflaging with their surroundings
  • Remaining motionless when threatened
  • Hiding in crevices and other small spaces during daytime
Feature Benefit
Singing Attract a mate for reproduction
Sword-like egg-laying device Enable female cricket reproduction
Large back legs Jump or hop to escape predators or catch prey

Evolution and Genetics

Silent Crickets in Hawaiian Islands

The Teleogryllus oceanicus species of cricket found in the Hawaiian Islands has undergone a unique evolutionary adaptation. Some male crickets have become silent, a rare phenomenon attributed to natural selection. In locations such as Kauai and Oahu, these crickets evolved to avoid attracting the attention of a parasitic fly, Ormia ochracea1.

  • Natural Selection: Silent crickets avoid becoming hosts for the parasitic fly, increasing their chances of survival and reproduction.
  • Mutation: A single genetic mutation is responsible for this silence, leading to convergent evolution.
  • Convergent Evolution: Silent crickets emerged independently in Kauai and Oahu, demonstrating a similar adaptation to a shared environmental pressure2.

Genetic Markers and the Cricket Genome

Crickets are part of the Orthoptera order, which includes grasshoppers3. These organisms provide valuable insights into insect biology, development, behavior, and evolutionary adaptations.

  • Genome: Crickets’ genomes have been studied by researchers, such as Richard Harrison of Cornell University and Tom Tregenza of the University of Exeter4.
  • Genetic Markers: These studies have identified key genetic markers within cricket genomes that contribute to their unique attributes, such as sex determination and nutrient preferences5.

Comparison Table

Feature Silent Crickets Normal Crickets
Chirping Sound No Yes
Parasite Risk Lower Higher

In conclusion, the study of crickets’ genetics and evolutionary adaptations provides valuable insights into how organisms can adapt to environmental pressures and challenges. Understanding these processes promotes further developments in the field of science and contributes to the overall understanding of evolution.

Crickets in Human Culture and Interaction

Crickets have existed in human culture and interaction for centuries. They have found their place in literature, as pets, and even as a source of food.

Crickets in Literature

Crickets have often been depicted as symbols of good luck and fortune. They have been featured in several classical literary works, such as the Chinese Tang Dynasty collection, where they were celebrated for their song.

An example of crickets in Western literature is the character of Jiminy Cricket in the story of Pinocchio. He acts as a conscience and guide for the main character.

Crickets as Pets

In several cultures, crickets are kept as pets for their song and resilience. They are low maintenance, making them ideal for beginner pet owners. Some key features include:

  • Lifespan: Generally, crickets have a lifespan of 8-12 weeks.
  • Housing: A small tank or enclosure with proper ventilation is ideal.
  • Food: Crickets primarily eat plant-based foods and require a clean water source.

A comparison of crickets to other common pets:

Pet Lifespan Space Requirement Maintenance Level Special Feature
Cricket 8-12 weeks Small tank Low Unique chirping sound
Goldfish 10-15 years Aquarium Moderate Attractive appearance
Hamster 2-3 years Cage Moderate Playfulness

However, keeping crickets as pets has its drawbacks. Their constant chirping can be irritating for some people, and they might escape from their enclosure if not properly secured. Nonetheless, crickets remain an interesting aspect of human culture and interaction.

Footnotes

  1. University of Minnesota Extension 2 3
  2. https://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2015/challenging-evolution-how-gmos-can-influence-genetic-diversity/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35123119/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35337452/
  5. https://extension.umn.edu/nuisance-insects/crickets

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Steel Blue Cricket Hunter

Subject: New Mexico bug, near the Rio Grande River
Location: Near the Rio Grande river in Albuquerque, NM
June 30, 2012 11:47 pm
Hi,
I observed this bug this afternoon. It can fly (pretty spastically) or walk and live in a hole in the ground into which it seemed hellbent on bringing scraps of wood bark and other stuff. It even picked up a big piece of dried mud to seal the entrance of it burrow. It is probably 2 inches in length.
Signature: AKizme

Steel Blue Cricket Hunter

Dear AKizme,
This sure looks to us like a Purplish Blue Cricket Hunter,
Chlorion cyaneum.  The common name would appear to be a bit misleading, because instead of crickets, BugGuide indicates:  “Nests are provisioned with cockroaches.”

Correction Courtesy of Eric Eaton
Should be Chlorion aerarium, but without knowing what kind of creature it was hunting, I can’t be absolutely certain.  Chlorion aerarium is common and preys on crickets.  Chlorion cyaneum is less common and preys on cockroaches.
Eric

Letter 2 – King Cricket Carnage in Australia

Scary Australian bug
Hi,
I saw your site listed as a Bonzer site on This Is True a little while back. When my wife found this terrifying bug last night, I immediately thought of you in trying to identify it. My wife went to the loo last night and saw this thing sitting on the top of the doorframe. She exited as quickly as possible and called me. After about ten minutes of spirited discussion we summoned up the courage (and tools) necessary to approach it. I took the first photo after we’d managed to knock it on to the toilet floor. After that I took it outside, emptied it from the container we’d captured it in and executed it. I took the second photo this afternoon, just so that you could see the bottom of this creature in case it helps with identification. I’ve failed to identify it from anything I could see on your website. I had a look on BugGuide, and I’m *guessing* that it fits in the subclass Apterygota. I live in Lauderdale, Tasmania, Australia. The bug is roughly 4cm from the head to the end of its abdomen, and the terrifying spike thing on the back adds almost another 2cm. I’m not sure whether I want you to tell me that it’s dangerous, and that I’m therefore justified in killing it, or that it’s harmless so I can sleep at night without worrying that more will turn up. We found a dried up husk on our front porch which obviously belonged to one of these, so we know there are more around. Anyway, I hope you like the pictures, and I hope you can tell me what it is!
Yours,
John

Hi John,
We can assure you this gal was perfectly harmless. It looks to us like a Weta, a primitive Orthopteran that is endangered in New Zealand. There are close relatives in South Africa and Australia, and the North American relatives are the Potato Bugs. In New Zealand, the Giant Wetas can grow to 8 inches. Here is the Wikipedia page with more information.

Update:  February 1, 2014
This is a female King Cricket, Australostoma australasia.

Letter 3 – Immature Cricket probably Tropical House Cricket

Have seen these around my house in Los Angeles
Wed, Jan 7, 2009 at 6:43 PM
They hop like grasshoppers. Look a tad like bees but longer and narrower. Look a little like the picture in your left margin actually. We tented the house and there were a ton of these (if I recall correctly) found dead on the carpet next to the fireplace in the living room. Have seen a few since living. We just moved in a week ago. Tenting was 4 weeks ago. Love your website! Thanks.
Family of four with only one bug friendly member
Los Angeles

Immature House Cricket
Immature House Cricket

Dear Family of Four,
This is an immature Cricket, probably a House Cricket, Acheta domesticus. According to Charles Hogue in his book Insects of the Los Angeles Basin: “The species was apparently introduced into the eastern United States from Europe, although its original home may have been Africa. It has since become widespread in southern California, where it is usually associated with human habitations. Lacking a dormancy period and hence being easy to raise, it is sold as fish bait and animal food in pet stores.” Perhaps the previous home owner raised or a nearby neighbor raises the crickets to feed to pets.

Update:  February 6, 2014
We just received a comment indicating that this is probably a [male]
Tropical House Cricket, Gryllodes sigillatus, and after looking at the photos posted to BugGuide, we are in agreement.

Letter 4 – Mystery Cricket

Dear bugman,
Please help us identify this fine bug we found, it has piqued our curiousity. It was found dead in the water near our sump pump in our basement. Being bug phobic, I asked my husband to remove the bug. I went on about how big it was. It was not until he removed it that he remarked “That is the wierdest bug I have ever seen” So we tried researching but couldn’t find
what it was. Your website is a great resource.
-Megan

Hi Megan,
You have some type of cricket, an Orthopteran. Sorry I can’t give you a species name, but I will work on it.

Letter 5 – Mystery insect is Pygmy Mole Cricket

Subject: Insect that looks like a machine
Location: ajax, ontario
September 16, 2015 12:51 pm
Love your site. Thanks so much for all the bugs you have identified for me so far. I think this bug might be hard to identify I got only one shot of it and looking at it I have no idea what it is. It was very tiny, size of long grain rice.
It was digging in the sand in front of Sobeys warehouse in Ajax Ontario. I was taking pictures of sand bees. The sandy area is very close to a pond. I am sorry I only have one shot It took me a while to find it on camera and it dug underground after the first shot.
Signature: terri martin

Mystery Insect
Pygmy Mole Cricket

Hi Terri,
This is a mystery.  It looks vaguely Orthopteran, and the antennae reminds us of a beetle.  We have written to Eric Eaton for assistance.

Eric Eaton Responds
Daniel:
… The insect is indeed an orthopteran, a “pygmy mole cricket,” family Tridactylidae.  This one is probably Neotridactylus apicalis, the “Larger Pygmy Mole Cricket.”  They are not true crickets of course, and are actually more closely allied to grasshoppers.  They are common in sandy riverbanks, but because they are subterranean for the most part they are seldom seen.  Would love to use this image in my talk on grasshoppers, if the photographer would grant permission for “educational use.”  Thanks.
Eric

Hi Daniel
I do have a few more shots  of the cricket. I am willing to send and Eric can use the image.  I am working nights at work right now so give me a few days and I will send you what I have.
I am doing a potential showing of my pictures at a gallery next year.
Thanks so much
Terri

Letter 6 – Water Cricket from Israel

Water bug of some sort
April 12, 2010
Hi WTB,
On my hiking trip to Eastern Samaria (north-east of Jerusalem, Israel) on April 9-10, 2010 I came across this hemipteran. There were lots of them skating on the water of a spring, but they don’t look like water striders and I wasn’t able to find out what they are. Any ideas?
Ben
Eastern Samaria, Israel

Water Cricket

Hi again Ben,
BugGuide lists two families in the Infraorder Gerromorpha that includes the Water Striders that look like good possibilities.  Based on the photos on BugGuide, our first guess would be a Broad Shouldered Water Strider in the family Veliidae.  Other names for these insects are Riffle Bugs and Ripple Bugs, and they are described as having a “pronotum broader than abdomen (as reflected in the common name); hind femur not longer than abdomen; pre-apical tarsal claws; usually wingless and dark-colored, sometimes with silvery markings.
”  The other possibility is the family Mesoveliidae, the Water Treaders, which BugGuide describes as being “Found on aquatic vegetation or running on the surface of the water. Fairly common around ponds.

 

Letter 7 – Probably Common House Cricket from Slovenia

Unknown bug
Location: Slovenia, Ljubljana, Cellar
January 30, 2011 9:16 am
The bug seems like a nymph of some cricket but that is just my speculation.
It is approximately 1.5 cm in lenght.
It was found in a cellar of an apartment building during winter.
Hope you find the time to answer.
Regards
Signature: Nik Pečanac

Cricket

Hi Nik,
Your suspicions that this is a Cricket are correct, and the undeveloped wings indicate that it is most likely an immature nymph.  The lack of an ovipositor indicates that this is a male, and we believe it is in the Field Cricket subfamily Gryllinae based on BugGuide imagery and that it is most likely the House Cricket,
Achetus domesticus, a species that is raised as food for many exotic pets like Tarantulas and Lizards.  Perhaps someone in the apartment building has a pet and this guy escaped being eaten.  Here is a nice online article on the House Cricket by Louise Kulzer.

Letter 8 – Sand Crickets or Sandkrieke from South Africa

Subject: Ant like bug
Location: South Africa. Limpopo
December 30, 2014 3:27 pm
It is a very big bug.Is it poisonous?I took the photo myself.It was at around 11 pm and it is summer with warm weather but it rained yesterday.
Signature: the bug man

Sand Cricket or Sandkrieke
Sand Cricket or Sandkrieke

Dear bug man,
This is a Sand Cricket or Sandkrieke in the family Stenopelmatidae which includes the Potato Bugs or Jerusalem Crickets from North America, and their only living relatives are in Australia and South Africa.
  We located matching images on iSpot here and here.  Though they are not poisonous, they do have powerful mandibles that could deliver a painful bite, possibly even drawing blood.

Letter 9 – The habits of crickets

I have been trying to find out information regarding the habits of crickets and hope that you could answer a couple of questions for me. When do crickets lay their eggs? (time of year, time of day)How many do they lay? How long does a cricket live? Do they “Mate” for life? I thank you in advance for any help on this.
Renee Greenman

Hi Renee,
I will try to answer all your questions. I’m guessing you mean Field Crickets, Acheta (or Gryllus) assimilis, though there are many types of crickets which have different habits and habitats. Field Crickets are black and over a half an inch in length. They are nocturnal. They lay their eggs in the fall and the female buries them in the ground with her ovipositor. Several hundred eggs are laid singly in the ground. A cricket that lives an entire year is long lived, and a female needs only mate once to lay eggs, but one could hardly consider them to be monogomous.


(11/15/2003) Ugly Basement Bug
Hi bugman … we have been having a problem with a large hopping bug. They are in our basement (they are not crickets). They’re large (about and inch long) with a softish type brownish colored shell body and long legs (about 1-1/2″ long). Legs are brown with beige striped. They’re very quick and hop away – very hard to kill and some have been immune (it seems) to the only spray we had in house (hornet spray). They are VERY VERY UGLY. Sorry we cannot supply a photo. Help!
Thanks,
Louiseann

Dear Louiseann,
I’m guessing Camel Crickets which have a very high arched back. Here is an image. They are fond of dark places and often take up residence in basements. They are relatively harmless.

Dear Daniel….. you are right on…. our bug is definitely the Camel Cricket….and now you mentioned “dark” , they do tend to be found at night. When we go downstairs in evening and turn light on, we’ll spot one or two. Thanks so much – I feel very relieved – they looked so prehistoric! You are really knowledgeable. Appreciate your efforts and thanks for getting back to me.
Louiseann

Letter 10 – Thermometer Cricket

Subject: type of lacewing?
Location: Mimbres, New Mexico
August 26, 2015 8:20 am
What’s my bug? Body about 1 inch long, 2 inches w/antennae.
Signature: Susana Murphy

Thermometer Cricket
Thermometer Cricket

Dear Susana,
This is a Snowy Tree Cricket, also known as a Thermometer Cricket.  Charles Hogue, in his landmark book Insects of the Los Angeles Basin writes that you can tell the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit “if one counts the number of chirps in 13 seconds and adds 40.”

Letter 11 – Unknown Cricket from Australia

Scary Hissing Bug!
Hello,
We this bug land in our swimming pool on the weekend. We weren’t able to get many good photo’s but these few have the most coverage. My partner picked it up to remove it from the pool and just before putting it down in the garden, it tried to take a chunk out of him….! Can you please help us find out what type of flying bug this is, I’ve looked on a couple of websites but can not find any pictures of it. 2 of us think it may be some kind of locust…?? It was outside in the pot plant then by the end of the night it was in the laundry, although I’m unable to locate it at the moment I’m sure he will come out of somewhere when I’m not suspecting it..! It would be greatly appreciated if you could help. Cheers,
Elle & Mark

Hi Elle and Mark,
For now, all we can tell you is that this is an Orthopteran, the order that includes grasshoppers, katydids and crickets. It is a female, as evidenced by the large spikelike ovipositor. Now comes the big question. Where are you located??????? There is a family, Anostostomatidae, of primitive insects found in New Zealand known as Weta, and there are some similarities. The hissing and aggressive posture are indicative of Weta, but Weta are wingless. This is probably some species of Long Horned Grasshopper or Katydid in the family Tettigoniidae. The last time we tried to email Eric Eaton, the communique did not go through. We will see if he has an opinion here. Here is what Eric thinks: “That is a female katydid of some kind, probably neotropical, and probably predacious, as are many katydids with strong jaws and heavy spines on the front legs.”

Hello,
Thank you so much for replying so soon. We are in Perth, Western Australia. I’ve never seen this type of bug/insect before, but he was huge..! Where do these things usually reside? as they are so big we thought we would have seen it before. He kept making a hissing sound that was loud enough to hear from about 4 foot away..! Feisty little fellow..!!! Thanking you in advance.
Elle & Mark

Hi again Elle and Mark,
Thanks for the location. Eric Eaton says a Predaceous female Katydid but does not know the species. A quick web search did not give us a conclusive answer.

Update: (07/03/2008) Katydid IDs from Piotr Naskrecki
Hi,
I have been looking at the page with unidentified katydids (Katydids 2), and thought I could help with some ID’s. From top to bottom they are: Australian “katydid” – not a katydid but Gryllacrididae, unknown species

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

    View all posts
  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

    View all posts

7 thoughts on “Unveiling Cricket Adaptations: Secrets to Surviving in Diverse Settings”

  1. The family Veliidae includes a group of bugs sometimes referred to as Water Crickets, many included in the genus Velia. This one looks virtually identical to V. caprai (http://www.commanster.eu/commanster/Insects/Bugs/Veliidae.html), which is common from northern Europe to the Mediterranean (perhaps including Israel). That’s probably the correct genus but there are actually a number of species that look very similar and I don’t know which (if any) occur in Israel. There are lots of images on the web; the link below shows four possible candidates in the genus Velia. K
    http://www2.pms-lj.si/heteroptera/velaff.htm

    Reply
  2. I’m not an expert, but I do believe that is a tropical house cricket nymph, Gryllodes sigillatus, because of the markings on the abdomen and the orange head.

    Reply
    • Hi Steve,
      We are not experts either, but we believe you are correct. The posting has been updated with the information you provided.

      Reply
  3. Hi,

    I was looking up the KIng Cricket (as one does) and stumbled across this page – of specific interest because I’d read that the King Cricket is probably not found in Tasmania.
    Is there any larger photo available?

    1977: King cricket found.
    http://www.tasfieldnats.org.au/TasNaturalist/Articles/1977/TasNat_1977_No49_May_pp7_Green_KingCricket.pdf

    2013: Article suggesting that the 1977 found King Cricket was an escapee and that the cricket does not live naturally in Tasmania. http://www.molluscsoftasmania.net/Portfolio/Grove_2013_TasNat_135_TasmanianKingCricketNot.pdf

    Fascinating events…

    All the best

    Peter

    Reply
  4. Hi,

    I was looking up the KIng Cricket (as one does) and stumbled across this page – of specific interest because I’d read that the King Cricket is probably not found in Tasmania.
    Is there any larger photo available?

    1977: King cricket found.
    http://www.tasfieldnats.org.au/TasNaturalist/Articles/1977/TasNat_1977_No49_May_pp7_Green_KingCricket.pdf

    2013: Article suggesting that the 1977 found King Cricket was an escapee and that the cricket does not live naturally in Tasmania. http://www.molluscsoftasmania.net/Portfolio/Grove_2013_TasNat_135_TasmanianKingCricketNot.pdf

    Fascinating events…

    All the best

    Peter

    Reply

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