Cricket (insect) facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Cricket
A cricket
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Orthoptera
Suborder: Ensifera
Superfamily: Grylloidea
Family: Gryllidae
BolĂ­var, 1878

Crickets, family Gryllidae (also known as "true crickets"), are insects somewhat related to grasshoppers and more closely related to katydids or bush crickets (family Tettigoniidae). They have somewhat flattened bodies and long antennae. There are about 900 species of crickets. They tend to be nocturnal and are often confused with grasshoppers because they have a similar body structure including jumping hind legs.

Crickets, like all other insects, are cold-blooded. They take on the temperature of their surroundings.

Cricket chirping

Gryllus01
A male Gryllus cricket chirping: Its head faces its burrow; the leathery fore wings are raised (clear of the more delicate hind wings) and are being scraped against each other (stridulation) to produce the song. The burrow acts as a resonator, amplifying the sound

Crickets are known for their chirp (which only male crickets can do; male wings have ridges or "teeth" that act like a "comb and file" instrument). The left forewing has a thick rib (a modified vein) which bears 50 to 300 "teeth". The chirp is made by raising their left forewing to a 45 degree angle and rubbing it against the upper hind edge of the right forewing, which has a thick scraper. This sound producing action is called "stridulation" and the song is species-specific.

There are two types of cricket songs: a calling song and a courting song. The calling song attracts females and repels other males, and is fairly loud. The courting song is used when a female cricket is near, and is a very quiet song.

To hear the mating call of other crickets, a cricket has ears located on its knees, just below the joint of the front legs.

Crickets chirp at different rates depending on their species and the temperature of their environment. Most species chirp at higher rates the higher the temperature is.

Jurassic chirp reconstructed

Night-time in the Jurassic included the 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".

Diet and life cycle

Crickets are omnivores feeding on organic materials, as well as decaying plant material, fungi, and some seedling plants.

Crickets have relatively powerful jaws, and have been known to bite humans, mostly without breaking the skin. The bite can, however, be painful when inflicted on sensitive skin such as the webbing between fingers.

Crickets mate in late summer and lay their eggs in the fall. The eggs hatch in the spring and have been estimated to number as high as 2,000 per fertile female. Subspecies Acheta Domestica however lays eggs almost continually, with the females capable of laying at least twice a month. Female crickets have a long needlelike egg-laying organ called an ovipositor.

Crickets are popular as a live food source for frogs, lizards, salamanders, and spiders.

Popular culture

Crickets are popular pets and are considered good luck in Asia, especially China where they are kept in cages. It is also common to have them as caged pets in some European countries.

Cricket fighting as a gambling or sports betting pastime also occurs, particularly in Asia.

In American comedy, the sound of crickets may be used to humorously indicate a dead silence when a response or activity is expected. For example, if a comedian in a TV show tells a bad joke, instead of the audience laughing, crickets may chirp.

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Cricket (insect) Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.