How Many Legs Do Crickets Have? A Quick Guide to Insect Anatomy

Crickets are fascinating insects, known for their distinctive chirping sounds and jumping abilities. Their physical features play a significant role in their behavior, and one such feature is their legs.

These insects possess six legs, as they are part of the insect family. Their legs have specific functions that enable them to thrive in their environment. For example, crickets have large back legs, which are designed for jumping and hopping source. This adaptation allows them to evade predators and move swiftly through their surroundings.

In addition to their six legs, crickets have other notable features like long antennae and, in some cases, wings. While there are some variations in color and size among cricket species, their basic anatomical structure remains consistent source. By understanding their physical attributes and adaptations, we can better appreciate the role crickets play in their ecosystems.

Basic Features of Crickets

Body Structure

Crickets are insects with a flattened body, a rounded head, and long, thin antennae. They typically have a brown, black, or green coloration. Male crickets produce chirping sounds by rubbing their wings together.

Number of Legs

Crickets, like all insects, have six legs. These include:

  • Two front legs
  • Two middle legs
  • Two hind legs

Comparison with Grasshoppers

Crickets and grasshoppers may appear similar, but they have distinct differences:

Feature Crickets Grasshoppers
Body Shape Flattened More elongated
Antennae Longer than body length Short
Hind Legs Large and used for jumping Long and strong for leaping
Sound production Rubbing wings together Rubbing legs against wings

Compound Eyes

Crickets have compound eyes, which consist of many smaller optic units. Their eyes are well-suited for detecting movement and seeing in low light conditions.

Long Antennae

One of the most obvious features of crickets is their long antennae, which can be as long as their body or even longer. Cricket antennae are used for:

  • Sensing their environment
  • Detecting food
  • Finding mates

Hind Legs

Crickets have large hind legs that are excellent for jumping or hopping. These powerful legs allow crickets to quickly escape predators or move across their environment.

Behavior and Habitat

Nocturnal Activities

Crickets are nocturnal insects, meaning they are primarily active during the night. They move around to search for food and mates under the cover of darkness.

Chirping and Singing

Male crickets are known for their distinctive chirping sounds. They produce these sounds by rubbing their wings together to attract females for mating. With each species having a unique pattern of chirping, it helps females identify their specific mates.

Temperature Influence on Chirps

The rate of cricket chirps is influenced by temperature. Crickets tend to chirp more frequently when it’s warm, and their chirping slows down in colder temperatures. An interesting fact is that the relationship between temperature and chirping rate can be used to estimate the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit:

Temperature (°F) = (Number of chirps in 15 seconds + 37)

Habitats and Range

Crickets can be found in various habitats, such as:

  • Fields and meadows
  • Forests
  • Caves
  • Grasslands
  • Urban and suburban areas

Their range varies depending on the species, but they are typically found in temperate and tropical environments.

Comparison between two common cricket species:

Species Lifespan Color Habitat
House Cricket 2-3 months Light brown Urban and suburban areas
Field Cricket 1-6 weeks Black or brown Fields, meadows, and forests

In summary, crickets are nocturnal insects with unique behaviors. Their distinctive chirping sounds are produced by male crickets for mating purposes, and temperature influences the rate of their chirps. They can be found in a variety of habitats, adapting to different environments, depending on their specific species.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Mating and Courtship

Crickets engage in a fascinating mating ritual. Male crickets attract females by chirping, which they produce by rubbing their wings together. The female cricket selects a suitable mate based on the male’s song, showcasing specific preferences in chirp patterns.

Female Cricket Ovipositor

The ovipositor is a vital aspect of female crickets’ reproductive anatomy, functioning as an egg-laying device that extends from the abdomen. This sword-like structure assists in depositing eggs into appropriate substrates, ensuring their survival.

Eggs and Nymphs

Upon mating, female crickets lay their eggs in moist soils or other suitable materials. A single female can lay hundreds of eggs, depending on the species. The eggs subsequently hatch into nymphs, which resemble smaller versions of adult crickets, lacking wings.

Lifespan and Development

Crickets’ development proceeds through several molts before reaching adulthood, which is marked by the growth of wings. Overall, crickets generally have a one-generation-per-year lifecycle in certain geographic locations like Minnesota. Their adult lifespan varies by species but is typically around 2-3 months.

Characteristics of crickets during reproduction:

  • Male crickets produce chirps to attract females
  • Females have an ovipositor for egg-laying
  • Eggs hatch into nymphs, eventually developing into adult crickets

Cricket Development Stages Comparison Table:

Stage Features Duration
Eggs Deposited in moist soils or substrates Weeks to months
Nymphs Resemble adults without wings Several molts
Adults Wings present, capable of reproduction 2-3 months

Cultural and Human Significance

Symbolism and Good Luck

Crickets have long been associated with good luck and fortune in many cultures. In Chinese culture, for example, crickets are seen as symbols of prosperity and happiness, often kept as pets in small cages to enjoy their melodious chirping.

  • Sign of good luck in various cultures
  • Kept as pets in some Asian countries for their songs

Edible Crickets and Nutrition

Crickets are gaining popularity as a sustainable, protein-rich food source. They offer a high-protein alternative to traditional livestock with lower environmental impact and resource requirements. Some companies are even producing cricket-based snacks and nutrition bars, making consuming cricket-infused products more accessible.

  • High in protein and nutrients
  • Environmentally sustainable compared to traditional livestock
Food Source Protein Content
Crickets High
Beef High
Soybeans Moderate

Cricket Fighting

Cricket fighting has been a popular pastime in China and other countries for centuries, with participants carefully selecting and training crickets for battles. These events often take place during festivals, bringing fans together to appreciate the athleticism and fighting prowess of their prized insects.

  • Long history as a pastime
  • Practiced mainly in China and parts of Asia

Crickets in Literature and History

Crickets have played a significant role in world history, particularly in literature, visual arts, and music. They often symbolize change or serve as a reminder of the beauty of nature. Examples include the cricket in Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” and the famous Chinese story of the “Cricket Boy”, a tale of wisdom and determination.

  • Representations in literature and visual arts
  • Symbolize change or appreciation for nature

Classification and Species Varieties

Orthoptera Order

Crickets belong to the Orthoptera order, which also includes grasshoppers and katydids. Members of this order have:

  • Large back legs for jumping
  • Leathery front wings (tegmina) to protect delicate back wings
  • Long antennae, often as long as their body length

Source: University of Kentucky Entomology

Gryllidae Family

The Gryllidae family consists of true crickets that have the following characteristics:

  • Rounded heads
  • Thin, long antennae
  • Wings bent down on the sides of their body
  • Flattened body appearance
  • Mostly brown in color, with some black and green varieties

Source: BioKIDS

Grylloidea Superfamily

Grylloidea is a superfamily that includes the Gryllidae family and other cricket-like insects. They typically share the basic cricket features listed in the Gryllidae family section above.

Common Cricket Types

Here are some common types of crickets and their characteristics:

  1. Field Crickets: These species may be black, brown, or tan, with large heads and jumping hind legs. Female field crickets also have a needle-like ovipositor for egg-laying. Source: MDC Teacher Portal
  2. Tree Crickets: Belonging to the subfamily Oecanthinae, these species are pale green and exhibit spines on the tibiae of their hind legs. Source: MDC Teacher Portal
Cricket Type Color Hind Legs Ovipositor Habitat Source
Field Black, Brown, or Tan Jumping Needle-like Fields and grassy areas MDC Teacher Portal
Tree Pale Green Jumping Not mentioned Trees and bushes MDC Teacher Portal

Predators and Interaction with Other Animals

Natural Predators

Crickets are a vital food source for many animals, including:

  • Frogs
  • Lizards
  • Birds
  • Spiders

For example, frogs and lizards often hunt crickets for their protein and energy content.

Parasitic Flies

Crickets can also fall prey to parasitic flies. These flies lay eggs on or near crickets, and their larvae feed on the cricket’s insides, eventually killing the host.

Crickets as Pets

Crickets can be popular pets or part of a pet’s diet. For example, some people keep cricket colonies for feeding reptiles like bearded dragons, while others keep crickets as pets for their unique chirping sounds.

Comparison Natural Predators Parasitic Flies Crickets as Pets
Affected Cricket’s Survival Decreases Decreases May be beneficial
Interaction Frequency Medium Low High

In conclusion, crickets interact with various animals in their ecosystem as both prey and pets. Whether part of a complex food chain or living within human care, crickets play a significant role in the lives of various species.

Miscellaneous Cricket Facts

Crickets in Technology

  • Robo-cricket: Researchers use crickets as an inspiration to develop bio-inspired robots for exploring hard-to-reach environments.
  • Cricket sound as alarm: Some apps and devices use cricket chirping sounds for phone ringtones or alarms, mimicking natural noises in the environment.

Crickets’ Unusual Appendages

Cricket Hearing (Tympana)

  • Located on legs: Crickets have unique hearing organs called tympana, located on their front legs, which helps them sense vibrations in their environment.
  • Chirp communication: Male crickets chirp by rubbing their wings together, and female crickets can locate them using their tympana.

Cricket Color Variation

Color Description
Brown Most common cricket color, helps in blending with surroundings
Black Some crickets appear black, often seen in field crickets
Green Mostly found in tree crickets, accompanied by whitish wings
  • Camouflage: Different colors help crickets blend in with their surroundings, increasing their chances of survival.

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 – Crickets in Greece fall victim to bug sprays and stomping

 

Please help me identify this bug
Location:  Trilofos, Thessaloniki, Central Macedonia, Greece
October 8, 2010 4:21 am
I recently moved to a country house in Northern Greece. Since the first few days the house had this visitor, along with his brothers, cousins and other relatives.
They are black, they jump but not very well, their usual movement is a walk with plenty of stops. They exist in large numbers around the house and they like coming in through any hole, or under the doors.
They are strong but not very fast. They like holes, corners and other hideouts. They die with cockroach sprays but not fast. If you step on them they make a crunchy noise and sometimes they don’t die, they need a second harder hit.
I am familiar, at least visually with most of the big bugs of the region, but this one is a new one for me.
I looks and moves like a bizarre hybrid between a cockroach and a grasshopper.
As I have a newborn baby girl, that will start crawling soon, I would like the species identified, in case it can be harmful in any way to the baby. I appreciate all your help.
Signature:  Alexander

Cricket

Dear Alexander,
We hope we are able to convince you that you do not need to poison or stomp on these interesting Field Crickets any longer.  We believe your Field Cricket is in the genus
Gryllus, and though they might do some damage in the garden, they are benign insects that are actually kept as pets in Japan because of their melodic chirping.  You can read more about Crickets in captivity on Insects.org and perhaps you will learn to appreciate the wonder of the insect world that surrounds you.

Dear Daniel,
Thank you very much for your prompt response. I am convinced…. but
now I will need to convince my wife too, a much harder job I am afraid
when it comes to these critters.
I have to say though that our crickets do not chirp – melodically or
otherwise. Maybe they see no reason to chirp given that the summer is
over.
If any Japanese people want a new pet, I have a few hundred
immediately available and they are welcome to come and collect them
ASAP…. 🙂
Thank you again,
Alexandros

Letter 2 – Fitchia Assassin Nymphs feeding on Cricket

 

assassin bugs
This is a picture of what I believe to be two immature assassin bugs, the bottom one eating a cricket. They were found in my yard in Lynn Haven, FL. Please help me identify their species.
Thank you.
Rachel

Hi Rachel,
We don’t want to even attempt a species identification on a nymph, but we are fairly certain the genus is Zelus.

Update:  May 4, 2013
We just received a comment correcting the genus as being Fitchia.  BugGuide images verify that identification.

Letter 3 – Crickets in Mount Washington

 

Subject:  Crickets in Mount Washington
Location:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
August 22, 2013
Daniel,
A couple of quick questions.
Growing up on Mt. Washington,  I was often lulled to sleep in the summer months by the hundreds of crickets in the open lot above our home.  When I purchased the family home in the early 90’s,  not only were the crickets absent, so were butterflies, bees, birds and damn near everything after the malathion spraying.
I occasionally hear some crickets in the evening, but not often.  I’d like to repopulate, but before I take any type of action, thought I would check in.  I can’t seem to find any real information on whether crickets are invasive,  pest like,  damaging to flora or any other real info.  I see that Mole crickets are a pest.
What are your thoughts?
Also saw an interesting insect this evening hovering around an outside light.  Very lacy, silver gray in color, perhaps 1 1/2 inches long, with a build very, very similar to a dragonfly.  Didn’t have a camera handy, but I will keep an eye open for it again.
Thanks,
Doug Nickel

Tree Cricket
Tree Cricket

Hi Doug,
The two “singing” insects we find in our Mount Washington garden with frequency are Tree Crickets and Katydids.  We would not release pet store crickets in your yard.  We were going to provide you with links to What’s That Bug?, but it appears there is technical difficulty right now.

Male Scudder's Bush Katydid
Male Scudder’s Bush Katydid

Update:  August 25, 2013
Well, we managed to create a post and provide some links.  We will check with Julian Donahue regarding other Crickets or musical insects in Mount Washington.

Julian Donahue responds
While Kathy and I enjoy hearing the tree crickets on warm evenings, I haven’t spent any time figuring out the other crickets I occasionally see–sometimes I see some that look like field crickets, but are more slender. And sometimes I find camel crickets drowned in the pool, but these are incapable of producing any sound.
Julian

Update:  September 29, 2013
Daniel,
Thanks for the note.  I alway appreciate your replies.  And am very glad to have such a knowledgeable Mt. Washington neighbor.
In all my years living in Mt. Washington 1963 til 1983 and 1992 to present, I don’t ever recall seeing a Tree Cricket.  I’ll keep my eyes open in the future.  In regard to the Bush Katydid,  unless they turn brown and have short antennae,  I’ve never seen any of those over here on Crane either.
However I have seen common house crickets and I am telling you prior to the Malathion disaster (may those public servants roast in hell) the entire 5 lots behind us sang every night with house crickets.
Do you think there might be various pockets around the hill.
Honestly, when I was a kid the hill behind us sang every night in the summer. On and off since we moved back, but not like in the 1960’s – 1970’s.
What’s your take?
Thanks.
Doug

Hi Doug,
Charles Hogue lists both the native black Field Cricket,
Gryllus species, and the brown European House Cricket, Acheta domesticus, as living in the Los Angeles area.  We haven’t really noticed either in Mount Washington, however the European House Cricket is the species sold in pet stores.  Were your childhood crickets black Field Crickets or Brown House Crickets?  As an aside, while living in Glassell Park in the early 1980s, we did have a Field Cricket take up residence in the drain of the bathroom sink.  It would “sing” whenever the water was turned on.  We were careful not to run the water too hot or too hard so that the cricket wouldn’t get scalded or washed away.  It lived in the bathroom for several weeks.  If there were Field Crickets in Glassell Park, we cannot imagine them not being found in adjacent Mount Washington.

 

Letter 4 – Field Cricket

 

Subject: Ia it a “Biter”?
Location: Union, MO, USA
July 20, 2017 11:51 am
Found this guy in my basement. He was just crawling around although it appears he might have wings. Below is a picture of the insect and a picture of my bites. As you can see there are smaller bites around the large ones although those dark spots are only old bites and not any recent ones. Could you please tell me if this is a match?
Signature: -Itchy Itchy Ichabod

Field Cricket (missing jumping legs)

Dear Itchy Itchy Ichabod,
We had to respond to your just because of your signature.  This is a female Field Cricket in the genus
Gryllus and she is missing her rear jumping legs.  Fleas often bite people on the ankles, and our best guess for your bites is Flea Bites and not this Cricket.

Flea Bites, we believe

Letter 5 – Gnashing Cricket from South Africa

 

Subject:  South African cricket like bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Stuttreheim, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Date: 01/12/2018
Time: 12:30 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi, I found  this bug cornered by my cats, and by my Jack Russell Terrier when I took the photos
How you want your letter signed:  Dean Sheard

Gnashing Cricket

Dear Dean,
This is one of the Orthopterans (the insect order that includes Crickets) in the family Anostostomatidae, a group that includes Wetas, Parktown Prawns and King Crickets, all common names that we find somewhat confusing when we get identification requests.  We located some images on iSpot that are identified as Gnashing Crickets in the genus
Henicus that look very similar to your insect, and we verified that identification on Minden Pictures where there is a nearly identical image posted by Katydid expert Piotr Naskrecki, whose authority we trust more than most images posted online.

Gnashing Cricket

Letter 6 – Great Grig: Hump-Winged Cricket

 

Subject:  Large cricket?
Geographic location of the bug:  McCall, Idaho
Date: 06/10/2018
Time: 10:17 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi! We found this guy on a camping trip at Ponderosa State Park. I’ve been trying to find similar images online but am having trouble. He is very friendly and seems to be flightless.
How you want your letter signed:  Ashley & my son Ben, Friend of all Bugs

Great Grig

Dear Ashley & Ben,
Your Hump-Winged Cricket or Great Grig,
Cyphoderris monstrosa, which we identified on BugGuide is actually more closely related to Katydids and it is not a true Cricket.  The BugGuide description is:  “male dark gray dorsally, pale whitish ventrally, with short wings humped up and wrinkled like a loosely-folded blanked heaped on the insect’s back; male subgenital plate with a ventrally-directed process shaped like the nail-pulling claw of a hammer.  female either lacks wings or has them reduced to small stubs.”  Your individual is a male.

Great Grig and Ben
Great Grig

Letter 7 – Dune Cricket from Nepal

 

Subject:  biggest insect I’ve ever seen…
Geographic location of the bug:  Sun Kosi river, SE Nepal
Date: 10/27/2017
Time: 12:31 PM EDT
We found this huge insect on a beach on the Sun Kosi river, 7th October. It was about the size of  a child’s hand, with very long antennae. After running around our feet for a while it buried itself in the sand.
Any idea what it is? Sorry the pictures aren’t great but it was dark and raining!
thanks,
How you want your letter signed:  Gareth

Dune Cricket

Dear Gareth,
This is some species of Longhorned Orthopteran in the suborder Ensifera, but we are not certain of its classification beyond that generality.  We suspect this is some species of ground Katydid, possibly a Shieldbacked Katydid.  We know we have something similar looking in our archives, but we are unable to locate it.  We will contact Katydid expert Piotr Naskrecki to see if he can provide a more specific identification.

Piotr Naskrecki Responds
What a beautiful creature. This is Schizodactylus, a member of the ancient family Schizodactylidae, with members in NE Asia and Southern Africa. Its hind wings are always curled like this, which probably helps them move backwards in their underground burrows.
Cheers,
Piotr

With that information, we were able to find this image of Schizodactylus monstrosu on Orthoptera Species File that looks very similar.  iNaturalist refers to family members as Dune Crickets.

Hi Daniel
That must be it – the face, the feet, and the curled-up shape at its back all look the same.
Thanks for your help tracking it down!
Gareth

Authors

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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9 thoughts on “How Many Legs Do Crickets Have? A Quick Guide to Insect Anatomy”

  1. This are actually adults of the genus Fitchia. Two species in the genus, and while I cannot say for certain, I’d venture that these are probably Fitchia aptera.

    Reply
  2. Sometimes the scientific names of these creatures make me take a second look at the pictures and notice something I missed the first time. Schizodactylus means split fingered and if you look at the feet of this animal you can see why the name was chosen. (My knowledge of Greek and Latin isn’t anything to write home about, but I’ve got a brick of a paperback, Composition of Scientific Words, by Roland Wilbur Brown, that makes it easy to find out what the scientific names mean.)

    Reply
  3. A few nights ago, a small dark grasshopper landed on my foot and I shook him off, he climbed onto the coffee table and I was staggered to see how beautiful this bug was. He had one jumping leg and I think six smaller ones, but it was his outer casing that was jewel like. He seemed to be dark blue with a band of gold the length and width of his back and on his head. It had turquoise areas behind his head on both sides. I have tried to find pictures to be able to identify his type, but there was only one – one legged type that hails from the USA!
    I live in Crete Greece. An anyone help identify this insect.

    Reply
  4. A few nights ago, a small dark grasshopper landed on my foot and I shook him off, he climbed onto the coffee table and I was staggered to see how beautiful this bug was. He had one jumping leg and I think six smaller ones, but it was his outer casing that was jewel like. He seemed to be dark blue with a band of gold the length and width of his back and on his head. It had turquoise areas behind his head on both sides. I have tried to find pictures to be able to identify his type, but there was only one – one legged type that hails from the USA!
    I live in Crete Greece. An anyone help identify this insect.

    Reply
  5. We encountered many of these on the sun kosi, camping as we did on the beach. i can tell you they are nocturnal. some were quite big, i hesitate to say 8-10 inches but that might have been the very good hash.

    Reply
  6. Sunwal-10 Nawalparasi, Nepal. I used to play with these insects when I was child. I used to pour water into their hole and they would come out. I was really interested to these insects because these were really good swimmer and fighter with their own. I used to bring them to my home in a bag of sand to see how do they survive.

    Reply

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