Crickets are a common sight in many households and outdoor spaces, but have you ever wondered what creatures actually eat these hopping insects? As a vital part of the ecosystem, crickets serve as a food source for various predators in their natural habitat.
Many animals, both big and small, consider crickets to be a tasty, protein-rich snack. Whether it’s a lizard darting across the rocks in search of a meal or a clever bird swooping down to nab its prey, crickets are a menu favorite for an array of creatures. It’s fascinating to learn how these seemingly innocuous insects play an important role in the food chain, providing sustenance to their diverse predators.
As you delve deeper into the topic, you’ll discover that crickets have an assortment of hunters that rely on them for nutrition. From reptiles such as frogs, toads, and lizards to birds like robins and sparrows, the list goes on. Even some mammals, like shrews and bats, enjoy munching on crickets from time to time. Now that you’ve learned a bit about what eats crickets, you can appreciate their essential role in our ecosystem.
What Are Crickets
Crickets are small insects belonging to the group of insects called Orthoptera, which also includes grasshoppers and katydids. They are known for their distinct chirping sounds, produced mainly by male crickets to attract mates. Crickets are commonly found outdoors, but some species like house crickets, mole crickets, and camel crickets may also enter homes source.
There are several species of crickets, such as:
- House crickets (Acheta domesticus)
- Mole crickets
- Camel crickets
- Jamaican field cricket (Gryllus assimilis)
House crickets are the most common type found in homes. They are 13-33 mm long and have a distinctive chirping sound. You can often find them on the lower floors and in the basement of houses source.
Mole crickets are unique, as they spend most of their life underground. They have modified front legs that allow them to tunnel through the soil. These crickets are common turfgrass pests in Florida and the southeastern U.S. source.
Camel crickets are named for their humped appearance when viewed from the side. They have long antennae and rear legs, and their color can range from light tan to dark brown source.
Jamaican field cricket, or Gryllus assimilis, is another species of cricket that is often used as a feeder insect for captive reptiles, birds, and amphibians due to its large size and meaty content.
Different cricket species have their own unique features and habitats, but they all share common traits:
- They have long antennae
- They have hind legs designed for jumping
- They are omnivorous (feed on both plants and other insects)
- They are usually active at night
It’s important to understand the various cricket species to know how they interact with their environment and their predators. This knowledge can also help in dealing with cricket infestations within homes or managing them outdoors.
Nutrient Content of Crickets
Crickets are a sustainable and nutritious source of food. They are particularly known for their high protein content. In fact, cricket protein contains all nine essential amino acids that your body needs.
The protein content in crickets varies among species, but most edible crickets have a higher protein content than common meat sources such as roasted goat, broiler chicken, and pork1. Cricket powders are rich in protein, with 42.0-45.8% of dry matter2. Besides protein, crickets are also high in fat, with 23.6-29.1% of dry matter2.
When it comes to mineral content, crickets are rich in calcium, magnesium, and iron2. These minerals are essential for maintaining strong bones, proper muscle function, and healthy blood circulation.
In addition to minerals, crickets are a good source of vitamins and fiber. The digestibility of cricket protein is also quite high, ranging from 50.2% for some species up to 83.9% for Acheta domesticus1.
Here’s a comparison table of cricket protein content compared to other common protein sources:
|Protein Source||Protein Content (%)|
In conclusion, crickets are not only a sustainable protein source, but they also provide essential nutrients, vitamins, and fiber. Incorporating crickets into your diet could be a healthy and eco-friendly choice.
Animals That Eat Crickets
Crickets are a popular food source for various insect-eating (insectivorous) animals. For example, spiders such as orb-weavers and wolf spiders capture crickets in their webs or hunt them down. Other insect predators of crickets include ants and wasps that attack and consume cricket eggs, nymphs, or even adults.
Many bird species feed on crickets due to their high protein content. Insect-eating birds like robins, sparrows, and bluebirds are known to feast on crickets. Some larger birds, such as wild turkeys and pheasants, also consume crickets when they find them on the ground or in vegetation.
Crickets are a common meal for various reptiles like frogs, lizards, snakes, and tortoises. For instance, bearded dragons are popular pet reptiles that relish crickets. Frogs, such as the American bullfrog, eagerly prey on crickets too. These food sources provide essential nutrients that help the reptiles grow and stay healthy.
Small mammals such as rats, mice, shrews, and bats often include crickets in their diets. Insects like crickets provide significant protein, vitamins, and minerals that help support the growth and health of these small mammals.
Other Cricket Predators
Some other animals that eat crickets are unique or less common predators. The praying mantis is a skilled insect hunter which feeds on crickets and other bugs. The giant anteater, despite primarily feeding on ants and termites, has been known to consume crickets when available. Even domesticated cats may hunt and eat crickets for their natural predatory instincts.
So, whether you’re a bird, reptile, small mammal, or even an insect, crickets serve as a nutritious and valuable food source, contributing to maintaining the balance in ecosystems.
Feeding Crickets in Captivity
Crickets are a popular choice for pet food, especially for reptiles, amphibians, and birds. Pet owners need to pay attention to their cricket’s diet and hydration to ensure optimal nutrition for their pets.
Diet: A well-balanced diet is crucial for crickets in captivity. You can provide them with commercially produced feeds, green vegetables, or even home-made concentrates. Remember that a cricket’s diet can influence its growth and nutritional value.
- Example: Offer a combination of vegetables such as lettuce, carrots, and potatoes, along with high-protein options like fish meal or soybean meal.
Hydration: Crickets are prone to dehydration, so it’s essential to provide them with a consistent water source. Use shallow water dishes or specially designed cricket water gels to prevent drowning.
- Example: Place a shallow dish with water crystals or a sponge soaked in water in the cricket enclosure.
Supplements: You may consider dusting the crickets with additional supplements, like calcium or multivitamin powder, to boost their nutritional content for your pets.
- Example: Lightly dust the crickets with calcium powder before feeding them to your reptiles.
When feeding crickets to pets like dogs, ensure they are properly gut-loaded and dusted with supplements to provide essential nutrients. Be cautious about overfeeding, as crickets should only make up a small portion of your dog’s diet.
Lastly, always keep the cricket enclosure clean and free of any mold or unhealthy conditions. This helps maintain the cricket’s health and ultimately benefits your pets that consume them.
Crickets Diet in the Wild
Crickets are omnivorous creatures, meaning they eat both plants and other insects. In the wild, their diet consists of a variety of foods, such as plant debris, vegetables and fruits.
For example, crickets enjoy eating:
- Seeds and grain
- Flowers and small fruits
- Vegetables like carrots and lettuce
Apart from plants, crickets also consume different insects and small creatures for their nutritional needs, which include:
- Flies and fly pupa
- Ants and ant nests
- Small insects like grasshoppers, roaches, and hoppers
Crickets are not picky eaters, and their diet varies based on their geographic location. In Asia and Europe, for instance, cricket diets are different due to the diverse range of available plants, insects, and other food sources.
Here’s a comparison table showing the variety of plant and insect food sources commonly consumed by crickets:
|Plant Sources||Insect Sources|
|Seeds and grain||Fly pupa|
Remember, understanding the natural diet of crickets can help you provide appropriate food if you’re raising them or using them as live food for pets. By mimicking their wild dietary habits, you can ensure their optimal health and growth.
Benefits and Risks of Crickets as Food
Crickets can be a highly nutritious and sustainable food source for you. They’re rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals. One of the benefits of eating crickets is the positive impact on your gut health. Including crickets in your diet can support the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and may even reduce inflammation in your body source.
But, there can be some drawbacks to eating crickets. For example, some people might experience allergic reactions. It’s essential to be cautious if you’re prone to allergies.
Crickets can also have a distinct taste and smell, which might not appeal to everyone. While some find them tasty, others might require creative recipes to mask the cricket flavor. You should try them in different dishes to find the preparation you like the most.
In terms of safety, you can consume crickets without any major concerns when they are farmed in closed systems under proper Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) and good farming practices (GFP) source. This ensures that the crickets you eat are not exposed to harmful substances or risks.
Here is a brief comparison table to help you weigh the pros and cons:
|Highly nutritious||Possible allergies|
|Good for gut health||Distinct taste/smell|
|Sustainable food source|
|Can be prepared in various recipes|
In conclusion, including crickets in your diet offers many health benefits, but you should consider potential risks and personal preferences before diving in. Happy eating!
In this article, we’ve explored the various creatures that eat crickets. To help you digest this information, let’s recap some main points:
- Crickets serve as an important food source for numerous animals, including birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals.
- Some examples of cricket predators are frogs, lizards, spiders, and even other insects like ants and wasps.
- Domesticated animals, such as chickens and pet reptiles, also eat crickets as part of their diets.
An interesting aspect to consider is the growing trend of edible crickets for human consumption. High in protein and environmentally sustainable, cricket-based foods might become a larger part of our future diets.
To wrap up, crickets play a vital role in many ecosystems, providing essential nourishment to various creatures. By understanding their place in the food chain, you can better appreciate the broader connections within the natural world. So next time you spot a cricket in your yard, consider the role it plays in sustaining the wildlife around you.
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
This bug was found in central Nebraska, it is about 1.5 inches in length. >Head looks like crawfish head? front legs thicker definite spikes. looks >like cricket body with wings but does not fly. rolled sideways to avoid >being caught.
It is a Mole Cricket, possibly Gryllotalpa hexadactyla, a burrowing insect that is injurious to several crops including peanuts and strawberries.
Letter 2 – Cricket Hunter
Steel GREEN Cricket Hunter Wasp!?
Location: Palm Springs 2009
November 21, 2010 1:28 pm
This steel blue cricket hunter wasp was found and caught at palm springs 2009. Its hard to see in the photo, but it is bright green. I cant find any kind of wasp like it on the internet or my bug book. I want to know if it is a new species, a mutation, a perfectly normal wasp defect, or just another kind of wasp.
We located an image on BugGuide of a Cricket Hunter in the genus Chlorion that is a green color. The genus page on BugGuide provides this information: “Dr Ascher’s comments: …Note greenish or purplish color of many Chlorion vs. blue in Chalybion. The shape of the pronotoum is more strongly notched in Chalybion; …the head of Chlorion is broader.” We will check with Eric Eaton to confirm the identification of this Thread Waisted Wasp in the genus Chlorion, probably Chlorion aerarium.
Letter 3 – Cricket Hunter
Absolutely fascinating website! I spent way too much time on it today… here is a picture of a weird guy that has been visiting us almost everyday for about a week. Weird thing is, he always shows up around the same time, hanging out in the same spot, acting the same way! I’m convinced he is an alien life form, because he seems to have super-intelligence. I swear, he is observing us! He is about 2 1/2 inches long and his body looks black, but is actually a pretty vibrant navy or cobalt blue. I checked out your site and I think he’s one of three possible species: 1. cuckoo wasp, because of his coloring. But, I am in San Diego and I’m not sure if a cuckoo wasp would live this far south. 2. maybe a tarantula wasp? Maybe not, because he does not seem to be aggressive and he has no orange coloring at all. Lastly, I beleive it could be 3. a soliatary was p, due to his bizarre behavior (a previous person wrote to you stating that her bug was watching her, not simply reacting to her movement) and overall look. But my friend seems bigger that the previous descriptions of solitary wasps. He was chomping on a cricket, if that helps, My three-year-old daughter is absolutely enamored with him… and he doesn’t seem to mind her persence..should I be concerned? Can they bite or are they poisonous? Thanks, I’m sure I’ll be referring to your website a lot in the future!
Thank you for the sweet letter. This is a Wasp, one of the Cricket Hunters in the genus Chlorion. Our best guess thanks to your detailed letter is Chlorion aerarium. This is a large wasp, though not a large as you state. It grows to 1 1/8 inches according to our sources. Adults will feed on juices from crickets as your letter states. The female also digs a burrow provisioned with crickets for her offspring. That is probably why you see her in the same area. She is probably working on her nursery, a deep tunnel.
Letter 4 – Cricket Hunter
Help! What’s this bug?
We’ve had these flying insects in our backyard for almost a month now. The adults are about 1 inch long with the wings having some bright blue tint. I live in Plano, TX. This winter is pretty warm, and these insects just popped out all of a sudden. After browsing through your web site, I think it’s one of the following. 1. Cricket Hunter, 2. Black Wasp. 3. Solitary Wasp. Could you help me identify them? They don’t seem to be aggressive. However, they live in a burrow inside our flower bed which is closed to the foundation of our house. Should I be concerned? I’m also worried that my kids are playing in the backyard with many of these little critters flying around them.
Thanks for your help!
We agree with your first guess, that this is a Cricket Hunter. We will see if Eric Eaton can give us a species name on it. These are not agressive wasps. Eric responded: ” The cricket-hunting wasp is probably Liris sp., perhaps, Larra. Very difficult to tell, even under a microscope! If you see one dragging a cricket, then its Liris. If you see one battling a mole cricket, then it is Larra. Best I can do.”
Letter 5 – Cricket Hunter and Prey
Masked Hunter with Prey?
I sure am having fun identifying bugs using your site. Thanks for all your hard work!! I took these photos in early September here in Barrie, Ontario , and am having some problems identifying the insect. My best guess is a Masked Hunter, but the head seems too large compared to what I found on your site. This particular critter seemed to be carrying around an earwig… I couldn’t tell for sure though. Any thoughts as to what this is?
Your photo shows a wasp. Eric Eaton helped us with the I.D. According to him: “Ok, found out the cricket hunter in the image is a Liris sp., family Sphecidae, subfamily Larrinae” She will dig a burrow, drag the prey inside and lay an egg on the still living but paralyzed cricket.
Letter 6 – Cricket Hunter with Prey
Hello, &Thank you for your time….
I was hoping you may be able to identify this strange metallic blue wasp looking bug for me. It was seen on a playground here in Indianapolis, IN. and was moving across the sand at a fairly good rate of speed. It had hold of a normal cricket and seemed to be taking it somewhere. Any help would be greatly appreciated
What a magnificent photo of what looks like a Steel-Blue Cricket Hunter, Chlorion aerarium, with its prey.
Letter 7 – Crickets
I saw this insect in my loft apartment in Augusta, GA. The building is relatively old, somewhere around 60-80 years old I would guess. Anyhow, the insect I’m writing about is a cricket-like animal with grasshopper-ish big legs. It’s relatively gray/brown in color, and quite ugly if I say so myself. Definitely not as exotic looking as a house centipede (which, by perusing through your site, I found out are the things that are also some of my roommates from time to time!). Anyways, it looks harmless, but it’s kind of big in >hat it has a body roughly the size of a marble (maybe a little smaller, or bigger for that matter), and those hind legs are just huge compared to it’s body in that the body is not as elongated as a cricket or a grasshopper. Great sight!
It could be a Camel Cricket, family Rhaphidophoridae. See if this photo looks right.
Letter 8 – Crickets
We live in an older house – it was empty several years so we have all kinds of bugs which we try to keep out of the house! Our worse invader is the scorpian after my husband was stung. But we also have a horrible time keeping the katydids out of the house. They come out at night and get on us – after the scorpian sting scares you to death. We kill probably 10 a night – between the 3 bedrooms. Even though they have been harmless I do not want them in the house – can you tell me how to get rid of them? Thanks!
Are you sure they are katydids? which are green and look like grasshoppers. I’m suspecting you have crickets, a common prey of scorpions. Bugs get into the house. Perhaps you should have a contractor find out where all the points of entry are and seal up the foundation.
Letter 9 – Crickets
How can one get rid of crickets that have found their way into the house?
Catch them and release them.
Letter 10 – Crickets
To whom it may concern:
My children and I want to keep a singing cricket as a pet. We have tried crickets from the pet store and from our garden, but they never sing in the house. We have a nice cage with food they seem to like; and we have made sure that we keep males. How can we get one to sing?
Maria in Buffalo, NY
Dear Maria in Buffalo,
I guess you already know that you must have a male cricket to get singing. I have known people who bought large quantities of crickets from the pet store to use in art installations as a sound component, so I know that pet store crickets will sing, though their songs are frail. Additionally, store crickets, usually European House Crickets (Acheta domesticus) are not very attractive, since they are an anemic shade of tan. Garden crickets or Field Crickets (Gryllus species) are a beautiful glossy black and have a robust chirp. Singing generally occurs in spring and early summer. I had a Field Cricket move into my bathroom sink drain many years ago, and it managed to hide somewhere in the pipes whenever I ran the water, though I was careful to not scald the free-loader. My cricket would sing constantly. I would recommend locating a cricket in your garden by tracking its chirp. Give it a cool, dark place and hope for the best. I cannot come up with a logical reason why your captives are mute, and I would suggest patience. Give the guy a chance to adapt, and eventually his romantic inclinations should bring on the song.
Letter 11 – Crickets
Dear What’s that Bug,
Being from Georgia I am used to hearing insects chirping at night and even bullfrogs doing their thing in the backyard. I am fond of these sounds and find them relaxing. And I know that having a cricket inside is supposed to be good luck. (Or is it just good luck if it is in your closet?)
However, the cricket or other chirping insect that is currently residing in my bathroom is not making me happy or relaxed. In fact, it is getting on my nerves and disturbing my sleep. I want to know what I should do. I don’t want to hear this sound that sort of echoes around in my empty bathroom but I don’t really want to kill this bug, nor would I really know how.
I have not spotted the bug, but it is really making it’s presence known. Any advice?
There are many folk beliefs in existence about crickets. Their presence in the home is generally thought to be an omen of good fortune in many parts of the world, and in China they are kept in captivity. The Chinese also match crickets for combat in a sport that is as popular there as cock fighting is in other countries. Extravagant wages are made on the outcome of championship fights.
The most common species in Southern California is the Tree Cricket (Oecanthus sp.) which is generally found in gardens and is almost always heard and not seen. They are usually green or white in color and only about 1/2 an inch long. It is common knowledge that the chirp rate of this cricket varies with the surrounding temperature, increasing at higher degrees and decreasing at lower ones. This fact has inspired formulas for calculating the temperature from the number of chirps per minute. The Snowy Tree Cricket, also called the Thermometer Cricket (Oecanthus fultoni) indicates the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit if one counts the number of chirps in 13 seconds and adds 40.
Your tenant is, however, more likely another type of cricket. Field Crickets (Gryllus sp.) are much larger than tree crickets, with body lengths up to 1 1/4 inches. Field Crickets live on the ground in fissures and under litter, vegetation and stones. They sometimes sing in the morning or late afternoon, but more usually at night when they come out to feed on all sorts of organic matter. They occasionally enter homes and become a nuisance by their unwelcome presence and incessant chirping.
A third possibility is that you are hosting a European House Cricket (Acheta domesticus) which are about 3/4 inch long as straw-brown in color. 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. Its chirp is frail and attracts less attention than that of its Field Cricket relatives. Bathrooms and kitchens are the most likely places to find crickets in the home.
I once had one who lived in the drain of my bathroom sink and I found its chirping to be quite soothing. I think you should lighten up and surrender to the sounds of nature.
Letter 12 – Crickets as food in Malawi
Subject: Can you identify this ground bug?
Location: South west of Dedza, Malawi
September 24, 2013 12:33 pm
The accompanying photo deserves identification.
Whilst climbing the wooded base of a ”mountain”, near Dedza, Malawi, we came across a hillside of divots, bored into the soil. We had no idea if it was man or beast creating the holes in the ground.
Further up we climbed, and soon, happened upon a family, with primitave hoe in hand, the son had been digging random holes in the hillside. One older sister proudly reached into an old bread sack and pulled out these critters for us to see.
From the image, do you have any idea what these are? It’s food for them, but eye candy for me.
Signature: John Robert Williams
These Orthopterans are most likely a species of Cricket. Crickets, Grasshoppers and other Orthopterans are eaten in many parts of the world, including Mexico where they are roasted.