Crickets are insects that are part of the Gryllidae family.
There are about 900 species of crickets.
Crickets have a cosmopolitan distribution, being found in all parts of the world with the exception of cold regions at latitudes higher than about 55° North and South.
Crickets thrive in moist, humid areas with an abundance of plants. They can often be found underneathrocks and plants, inside of logs and along roadsides.
They are characterized by long antennae, strong hind legs adapted for jumping, and in many species males that make chirping sounds.
Crickets are often confused with grasshoppers because they have a similar body structure including jumping hind legs.
Crickets vary in length from 3 to 50 mm (0.12 to 2 inches).
Crickets can be black, brown, yellow, green, red, orange and purple color. Many have two or more colors that gradually fade into each other, such as brown into yellow or brown into black.
Most cricket species are nocturnal.
Crickets jump. Although it varies by species, field and house crickets can jump about 0.9 meter (3 feet). This is roughly equivalent to 30 times their body length.
Their powerful rear appendages primarily function for leaping, which enable crickets to flee from other animals that naturally prey on them. When crickets are unable to escape, their strong back legs are also used to fend off attackers.
Aside from jumping, crickets are also excellent climbers and some species have the ability of flight.
Crickets are well known for their chirping sounds. They chirp for several reasons, but only the male crickets can chirp. The male cricket rubs his front wings together to make his chirping sound. The female’s wings aren’t built the same way, so she has no chirp.
Crickets have different songs for different purposes. The chirping that that is most common is that of a male trying to attract female crickets. Once a male cricket has a female nearby, he woos her with another song. Once the male and female crickets have finished mating, he sings another song to keep her nearby and guard her from being mated with another male. When a male invades another cricket’s territory and they encounter one another, they have another type of song of aggression. Each song has a different rate and loudness of the chirping.
Crickets use special “ears” on their front legs to hear other crickets’ vibrations. This “ear” is like humans eardrum, which is very sensitive to sound vibrations.
Crickets develop by incomplete metamorphosis, a process in which the larvae resembles the adults somewhat, as they have compound eyes, developed legs, and wing stubs visible on the outside, but the juvenile forms are smaller and if the adult has wings, lack wings. In this mode of development, which involves gradual change, there are three distinct stages: the egg, nymph, and the adult stage, or imago. There is no pupal stage characteristic of complete metamorphosis.
Crickets can live up to a year or longer, but typically only survive a single winter. They die of old age or will freeze if the temperature lowers to 0 °C (32 °F). Only their eggs can survive low temperatures in the winter.
The insects are affected by temperature fluctuations and tend to be most active on warmer evenings, during which they chirp louder and more rapidly.
For many crickets, meals aren’t awfully hard to come by, since the majority of the insects are omnivores. Most crickets readily feed on fresh and tasty plant material, fruits, veggies, seeds and fungi. While most species of crickets are omnivores who will eat meat in addition to plants, the majority prefer plants and other sources of food that put up no fight. But some species choose to take a mostly or entirely carnivorous route – their diet include invertebrate eggs, larvae, pupae, moulting insects, scale insects, and aphids.
Crickets have relatively powerful jaws, and several species have been known to bite humans.
Crickets are popular as live food for carnivorous pets.
Crickets are popular pets and are considered good luck in Asia, especially China where they are kept in cages. The practice was common in Japan for thousands of years; it peaked in the 19th century, though crickets are still sold at pet shops.
The folklore and mythology surrounding crickets is extensive. The singing of crickets in the folklore of Brazil and elsewhere is sometimes taken to be a sign of impending rain, or of a financial windfall.
Crickets often appear as characters in literature. The Talking Cricket features in Carlo Collodi’s 1883 children’s book, The Adventures of Pinocchio, and in films based on the book. Charles Dickens’s 1845 novella The Cricket on the Hearth, divided into sections called “Chirps”, tells the story of a cricket which chirps on the hearth and acts as a guardian angel to a family. George Selden’s 1960 children’s book The Cricket in Times Square tells the story of Chester the cricket from Connecticut who joins a family and their other animals, and is taken to see Times Square in New York. The story, which won the Newbery Honor, came to Selden on hearing a real cricket chirp in Times Square.
Night-time in the Jurassic forest was punctuated by the unmistakable sound of chirping bush crickets. This is according to scientists who have reconstructed the song of a cricket that chirped 165 million years ago. A remarkably complete fossil of the prehistoric insect enabled the team to see the structures in its wings that rubbed together to make the sound.
Spider crickets can jump distances up to 60 times their own body length, but just how they manage to land on their feet has remained a mystery until now. Using high-speed cameras, researchers have revealed the insects first adopt a streamlined posture, before flinging their limbs outwards to balance. Understanding the insect’s moves could lead to the development of small, nimble robots, with the ability to move across rough terrain such as earthquake rubble or even the surface of Mars.