What Do Crickets Eat: A Friendly Guide to Their Diet

Crickets, small insects belonging to the family Gryllidae, are found in various habitats across the world. You may have heard their distinctive chirping at night, but have you ever wondered what these insects like to eat?

As omnivorous creatures, crickets consume a wide variety of foods ranging from plant-based materials to other insects. In the wild, they commonly feed on leaves, fruits, and even fungi, while also preying on smaller insects such as aphids or ants.

Interestingly, crickets held in captivity are given diverse food options too. For instance, according to a Cornell Institute for Biology Teachers lab activity, students can observe crickets consuming certain vegetables, fruits, and grains. Keep in mind, though, that their diet can vary depending on the species and their specific habitat.

Cricket’s Natural Diet in the Wild

Crickets are versatile eaters, and their natural diet consists of a variety of plants and smaller insects. In the wild, you’ll find crickets feasting on:

  • Grass and leaves: Crickets are known to munch on various grasses and leaves to meet their nutritional needs.
  • Seeds and grains: These little insects enjoy snacking on seeds from different plants, as well as grains found in grasses.
  • Fruits and vegetables: A balanced diet for crickets also includes small pieces of fruits and vegetables, contributing to their nutrition and hydration.

Crickets are not only herbivores but also opportunistic predators. They will hunt and eat smaller prey, like:

  • Ants: Crickets will consume ants when given the chance, adding valuable proteins to their diet.
  • Grasshoppers: Smaller grasshoppers may fall prey to larger crickets, providing an additional protein source.
  • Insects: Various other insects may also become a part of the cricket’s diet in the wild.

Water is essential for crickets, as it helps them stay hydrated and maintain their physiological processes. They usually consume water from natural sources like dew or rain droplets on plants.

Crickets mainly hunt their prey at dusk and during the night, using their sensitive hearing and powerful jumping abilities to locate and capture their food. Remember, crickets belong to the Orthoptera order of insects, along with grasshoppers and katydids, known for their strong legs and jumping skills.

While roaming the wild, crickets may also eat soil occasionally. This behavior provides them with essential minerals that may be lacking in their standard diet of plants and insects.

In summary, a cricket’s natural diet in the wild consists of various plants such as grass, leaves, seeds, fruits, and vegetables, as well as smaller insects for protein. They also need water and may consume soil for essential minerals.

Cricket’s Different Types

In this section, you will learn about the different types of crickets, including house crickets, camel crickets, and cave crickets.

House Crickets are typically found indoors and are light brown or tan in color. They have a high-pitched chirp, primarily produced by the males for attracting females. Some of their features include:

  • Size: 16-21 mm (0.6 – 0.8 inches) long
  • Appearance: Light brown with dark bands on head
  • Habitat: Indoors, warm and dark areas like basements

Camel Crickets, also known as cave crickets, are named for their humped appearance when viewed from the side. They have extremely long antennae and rear legs. Their characteristics include:

  • Size: 13-30 mm (0.5 – 1.2 inches) long
  • Appearance: Light tan to dark brown, with a humpback shape
  • Habitat: Cool, dark and damp places like caves, under rocks, and basements

Cave Crickets are a specific type of camel cricket that prefers to live in damp habitats, such as caves. They are usually dark brown or black in color. A few features of cave crickets are:

  • Size: 9/16 to over 1 inch long
  • Appearance: Dark brown to black, with large back legs for jumping
  • Habitat: Caves, plumbing areas, moist environments

There are many species of crickets that can be difficult to distinguish due to their similar appearances. However, knowing the habitat and features of the primary types like house, camel, and cave crickets can help you identify them. Enjoy exploring the world of these fascinating insects!

Fascinating Facts About Crickets

Did you know that crickets have interesting ways to jump, communicate, and reproduce? Let’s explore some of their unique characteristics.

Crickets produce a distinct chirping sound, which comes from the rubbing of their wings. This is called stridulation. Believe it or not, only male crickets make this sound! They do so to attract mates and to establish their territory.

Temperature affects the frequency of cricket chirping. As external temperature increases, so does the rate of chirping. It’s an interesting relationship between the environment and their behavior.

Here are some more fascinating facts about crickets:

  • Most crickets have wings and are capable of flight, but only for short distances.
  • Crickets have powerful hind legs, which help them jump long distances and escape predators.
  • Their large compound eyes offer them a wide field of view, which helps them spot threats easily.

After mating, female crickets lay their eggs in the soil or in plant tissues. When the eggs hatch, they emerge as nymphs, which look like miniature versions of adult crickets. As they grow, they shed their exoskeleton through a process known as molting.

Crickets may be small, but they play a vital role in ecosystems as both predators and prey. They help control pest populations, and they’re a valuable food source for other animals. So next time you hear a cricket chirping, take a moment to appreciate these fascinating creatures and their unique characteristics!

Crickets Diet in Captivity

When keeping crickets in captivity, it’s essential to provide them with a balanced diet. Your pet crickets need a mix of protein, fruits, and greens to maintain their health.

Crickets are natural scavengers and can eat a variety of plants and insect larvae. In captivity, your crickets will enjoy:

  • Leafy greens like lettuce, kale, and spinach
  • Fruits such as apples, oranges, and bananas
  • Vegetables like carrots, potatoes, and corn

Good protein sources for crickets include:

  • Grasshoppers, ladybugs, and other insects
  • Pre-made cricket or reptile food
  • Cat food, crushed into a fine powder

Occasionally feeding your crickets live prey like insect larvae can help to maintain their natural instincts.

Here’s a comparison table to help you understand the different types of cricket food:

Food Type Protein Greens Fruits Insects
Vegetables No Yes No No
Fruits No No Yes No
Insect Larvae Yes No No Yes
Commercial Food Yes Some Some Some

Pet reptiles such as geckos can benefit from a cricket diet as well. By feeding your crickets a balanced diet, you’ll ensure your reptile gets the nutrients it needs when it consumes them.

Remember to provide fresh food for your crickets daily and remove any uneaten food to avoid mold or attracting other pests. With proper care and a diverse diet, your crickets will thrive in captivity.

Crickets and Cannibalism

Crickets are omnivorous creatures, which means they have a wide range of food choices. They usually feed on dead insects, plants, and even their own species. Yes, you read that right – crickets exhibit cannibalistic behavior.

This behavior typically emerges when there is a scarcity of food. But don’t be surprised to learn that cannibalism in crickets can also happen under normal circumstances. They eat their brethren for various reasons. For instance, it helps maintain their population and remove weak or injured individuals from the gene pool.

Larvae are particularly vulnerable to cannibalism. Adult crickets find them easier to catch and consume compared to other prey. Moreover, larvae contain valuable nutrients that benefit the predators.

To summarize, here are some key points about crickets and cannibalism:

  • Crickets are omnivorous insects that eat various food sources.
  • They engage in cannibalistic behavior, consuming their own species.
  • Cannibalism might occur due to food scarcity, population control, or easy access to larvae.
  • Larvae can be a primary target because of their vulnerability to predation.

Keep in mind that cannibalism among crickets is a natural behavior and does not necessarily indicate aggression or abnormality. It is simply a survival tactic employed by these small yet fascinating insects.

Pests or Pets? The Dual Role of Crickets

Crickets can be both a nuisance and a beneficial companion in certain situations. Let’s explore their roles as pests and pets.

When it comes to being pests, crickets can cause damage to fabrics, crops, and gardens. They feed on a variety of materials like plants, produce, and even fabrics. This can be frustrating for you when they find their way into your home or garden.

On the other hand, crickets can have positive impacts as well. For instance, they are often found in basements where they can help eliminate other unwanted pests. They also play a crucial role as food for various animals like reptiles, amphibians, and birds.

Consider the following comparison table showing their roles as pests and pets:

Role Pros Cons
Pest Can help control other insects in basements May damage fabrics, crops, and plants
Pet Serves as food for pets like reptiles and amphibians Male crickets’ chirping can become a nuisance

In conclusion, crickets can be both an annoyance and a helpful presence depending on the context. Be mindful of their potential impact on your surroundings and remember that a proper container lid can help keep captive crickets in their place.

Adaptation Mechanisms of Crickets

Crickets have developed a variety of adaptation mechanisms that help them survive in different environments. Here are some of their key adaptations:

  • Tan color: Crickets have a natural tan color which helps them blend into their surroundings. This makes it easier for them to hide from predators and also to catch prey.
  • Wings: Some crickets have wings allowing them to fly short distances, while others have small wings or none at all depending on their habitat.
  • Jump: Crickets are known for their ability to jump up to 20 times their body length. This high-powered and fast movement helps them evade predators or capture prey in an instant.
  • Hiding: They are experts at finding hiding spots under rocks, leaves, or inside burrows. This ability to hide makes it difficult for predators to find them.
  • Temperature: Crickets are ectothermic, which means their body temperature is regulated through external sources like the sun and their environment. They can survive in a range of temperatures, but prefer warm environments.

Keep in mind these adaptations can vary depending on the specific species and habitat. Enjoy observing crickets in their natural environment, using these pointers to better understand their behavior and survival strategies.

Predators and Threats to Crickets

Crickets, like any other living organism, have their share of predators and threats to their survival. In this section, we’ll briefly discuss some of the predators and dangerous environmental factors that crickets face.

Natural Predators

  • Snakes: These slithering creatures often feed on crickets due to their small size and easy availability.
  • Spiders: Many types of spiders, such as the jumping spider, rely on crickets as part of their diet.
  • Birds: A wide variety of birds, including songbirds and chickens, consider crickets as part of their delicious menu.

Crickets also serve as prey for various insects, rodents, and even some amphibians like frogs and toads.

Environmental Threats

  • Loss of habitat due to human activities such as deforestation and urbanization can lead to crickets facing new predators and reduced food availability.
  • The use of pesticides in agricultural areas can not only directly harm crickets but also reduce their food sources like aphids.

Crickets have a significant role in ecosystems, serving as both predators and prey to various species. As a cricket, you need to adapt to your ever-changing environment to ensure your survival in the wild. Remember, staying alert and adapting to your surroundings is the key to evading predators and overcoming threats.

Significance of Crickets in the Ecosystem

Crickets play a vital role in the ecosystem as they serve as a food source for various organisms. For instance, they are a staple diet in the animal kingdom, providing nutrition to reptiles like lizards and amphibians like frogs.

Crickets’ consumption of plant matter makes them essential for controlling vegetation growth. They feed on decaying plants, cleaning up dead organic matter in nature.

As members of the Orthoptera order, crickets have certain characteristics that make them interesting and beneficial to the ecosystem:

  • They are known for their distinctive chirping sounds, produced by the males to attract females for mating.
  • They can jump impressive distances using their powerful hind legs.
  • Crickets are nocturnal insects, which means they’re mostly active at night.

Crickets also serve as a food source for pets like tarantulas and are even being considered for human consumption due to their high protein content and low environmental impact. They have the potential to serve as an alternative source of protein by feeding on less resources compared to traditional livestock.

To sum it up, crickets positively contribute to the ecosystem – not just as a nutritious food source for various animals, but also as an essential agent for plant life balance.

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 – Cricket

 

Unidintified cricket possibly a hoplosphyrum boreale?
September 23, 2009
I just sent you a couple of pictures and asked you to identify a cricket that wasn’t a field cricket. I poked around online and found a description that fit. I couldn’t find a picture. “females are scaly and wingless” “common scaly cricket”? What do you think?
bugbarb
Chantry Flat, Angeles National Forest, California

Cricket
Cricket

Unknown cricket species, not a field cricket.
September 23, 2009
I have a healthy family of field crickets which I have raised from eggs laid by a single mother. Occasionally, I put in immature field crickets that I find in my yard. One such cricket has turned out to not be a field cricket. She has not grown at all and has fully developed ovipositor. She is brown, and has some dark horizontal bands. I have had her for over a month and she still doesn’t have wings that I can see. I have never seen this type of cricket before. I live at 2,200 feet elevation in Big Santa Anita Canyon in Angeles National Forest. Our canyon is one of the few places the recent Station Fire hasn’t burned. I find many interesting bugs in my yard because of the location.
Bugbarb
Chantry Flat, Angeles National Forest, California

Cricket
Cricket

Hi Bugbarb,
Based on two images from Southern California posted to BugGuide, we believe you have properly identified this Cricket as Hoplosphyrum boreale.

Letter 2 – Cricket

 

Subject: Bug in Room!
Location: San Diego
November 19, 2012 2:45 am
Ive found multiples of these in my room that i am renting over the past 4 days! help!
Signature: -Cayla

Cricket

Hi Cayla,
This is a Cricket and it appears to be a very young specimen.

Letter 3 – Cricket

 

Subject: What is this?
Location: Omah Nebraska
August 14, 2016 7:49 pm
This bug looks like a cricket, but with the wings makes us think not… Any ideas?
Signature: C Johnson

Cricket
Cricket

Dear C Johnson,
This is a Cricket.  Crickets do have wings.  According to Wonderopolis:  “The bottom of a cricket wing is covered with teeth-like ridges that make it rough. The upper surface of the wing is like a scraper. When crickets rub the upper and lower parts of their wings together, they create a chirping sound called ‘stridulating.'”  Your individual reminds us of this BugGuide image of a Japanese Burrowing Cricket.  We believe the light coloration is due to it being newly molted.  Many insects darken after their newly exposed exoskeleton hardens after a fresh molt.

Letter 4 – Cricket

 

Subject:  Cricket looking thingy
Geographic location of the bug:  Bel Air Maryland
Date: 10/24/2017
Time: 05:58 PM EDT
Not sure what he is, he didn’t show up in Google images. It hissed at me when I poked it with a leaf.
How you want your letter signed:  concerned person

Cricket

Dear concerned person,
This is definitely a Cricket in the family Gryllidae and most likely a Field Cricket in the genus
Gryllus.  According to BugGuide:  “A very difficult genus, because most species are extremely similar in appearance and in morphology. In a given area, it is usually possible to learn the various species through experience, by learning which songs go with which crickets at what time of year. However, from photographs and even with pinned specimens it is very difficult if not impossible to identify many individuals with certainty. A few species are distinctive enough to recognize on sight, but most are not. This is a group where it is actually usually easier to identify a specimen by hearing it than by seeing it! Another complication is the fact that several species (especially in the west) do not even have names yet. And yet another complication is that females do not sing.”  Your individual is a singing male.

Letter 5 – Cricket

 

Subject:  Weird jumping bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Phoenix arizona
Date: 09/29/2021
Time: 02:43 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  These hugs appeared in my back yard. They jump not fly. Worried they bite
How you want your letter signed:  Not a desert girl

Cricket

Dear Not a desert girl,
This is a Cricket.

Letter 6 – Cricket eats Bearded Tooth Mushroom

 

Story of the fungi, grasshopper and spider?
Location: Pratts Falls in Onondaga County NY
March 4, 2011 2:55 pm
Hi there. I am a photographer in NY. While out to photograph waterfalls (Pratts Falls in NY to be exact) I cam upon this incredibly impressive Bearded Tooth mushroom (Hericium erinaceus). My mom is into mycology so I thought she would find this fascinating. I was not equipped with macro gear so the images are not the best quality but we thought you may enjoy them. On this fungi was what we think is a grasshopper or cricket. We are not sure exactly what it is. But he even had a hitchhiker. A little tiny spider. Again we are not sure what type of spider this is. Perhaps you will have a little info to share on the types of insects they are and might enjoy the uniqueness of this photo. Thank you for any info.
Signature: Tristi

Cricket eats Fungus and transports Spider

Hi Tristi,
Thanks so much for sending us your photo.  The insect is a Cricket, and we do not recognize the hitchhiking Spider.  The image is so small, it may not be possible to correctly identify the spider.  Our research indicates that the Bearded Tooth Mushroom is edible.

Cricket eating Bearded Tooth Mushroom

Authors

  • Daniel Marlos

    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.

  • 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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