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 are commonly found in various natural habitats, such as:
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, 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 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.
|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|
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:
|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.
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
|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.
|Feature||Silent Crickets||Normal Crickets|
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|
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.
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
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.
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.
Letter 2 – King Cricket Carnage in Australia
Scary Australian bug
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!
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
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
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.
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
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
… 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.
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
Letter 6 – Water Cricket from Israel
Water bug of some sort
April 12, 2010
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?
Eastern Samaria, Israel