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What are Crickets?

The human ear may not be able to detect the differences in cricket chirps between species.
Crickets are closely related to the grasshopper.
A cricket has longer antennae than a grasshopper.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 14 October 2014
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Crickets are insects from the family Gryllidae, closely related to grasshoppers and katydids. There are almost 2,500 species of cricket, found primarily in the temperate regions of the world. These insects are perhaps most famous for their distinctive chirping noises, which are created by rubbing the front wings together.

Several features can be used to identify a cricket, and to distinguish it from the related grasshopper. Crickets and grasshoppers both have big, muscular rear legs which are used for jumping, but crickets also have long antennae, in contrast with the short antennae of grasshoppers. The front wings of these animals are small and leathery in texture, while the larger rear wings are usually tucked under the front wings flat against the body, except in flight.

Only males in some species of crickets produce chirping. Several different chirps have been identified by biologists, including a calling song to attract females, and an aggressive song to deter other males. The chirps are also unique to the species, although the casual human ear might not be able to detect the difference.

As a general rule, these insects are nocturnal, and they are also omnivorous. This is another major difference between them and grasshoppers, as grasshoppers are herbivorous. Crickets usually mate in the summer, producing eggs in the fall, with the young hatching in the spring. A single female can lay up to 2,000 eggs, ensuring that at least some of her young survive, despite predation.

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In some cultures, the cricket is viewed as lucky. In some parts of China, for example, people like to keep crickets in cages, and in some parts of England, when a cricket chirps indoors, it is viewed as a good omen. They are also regarded as a source of food in parts of Africa and Asia, and many people raise them to feed pets such as lizards and fish. For those who don't feel up to raising their own, some exotic pet suppliers carry them.

The name cricket comes from the Old French criquer, which means to click, a reference to the chirps and clicking noises produced by males. Many people associate the sound of crickets with the evening hours, especially quiet evenings without many people around. In some English-speaking regions of the world, when a comment meets with a deafening silence, the commenter may jokingly make an allusion to these insects, referencing the fact that the room has fallen so silent that if crickets were around, they would be audible.

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anon285335
Post 6

I found a cricket in the wastebasket of my office and he's in a clear bread box, with some carrot and apple peels, chirping his wings off right now. So pleasant and soothing. Wonderfully masks the sound of my tinnitus.

seag47
Post 4

I live near a pond, so I get to hear the combination of frogs and crickets every day at twilight. The sound will forever remind me of summers during my youth.

In fact, we have so many crickets in our yard at times that it is hard not to step on them. The dogs think it’s a wonderful game to try and catch them. They actually eat the entire cricket once they catch it.

We were babysitting my cousin when he was barely a year old. He was sitting on the porch when a cricket hopped by, and without hesitation, he picked it up and popped it in his mouth! We scooped it out quickly. I wish he had been old enough to talk, because I would have loved to have asked him what it tasted like.

Oceana
Post 3

A cricket in the house is almost impossible to find. Just when you think you have nailed down its location, you hear it somewhere else instead.

I had a cricket in my house the night before my new job started. I really needed to get some good rest, but I spent half the night looking for the cricket. They are good ventriloquists.

I ended up just turning on a loud fan to drown out the noise. I wished I had done that hours ago, but it hadn’t occurred to me until I saw that the cricket was winning the game of hide and seek.

julies
Post 2

@Mykol - Yes - I am always amazed at how much noise one small cricket can make when you are trying to sleep and there is one in your room.

I don't mind them when I hear them outside, but really don't like having them anywhere in the house.

I have a friend who will buy crickets to feed his iguana. There are many people who have reptiles and pets that eat crickets. Some will even raise their own crickets to feed their pets.

I never intend to have a pet that I have to feed crickets to. I will just stick to listening to them chirp outside in the summer.

Mykol
Post 1

I always take advantage of sleeping with my windows open whenever the weather permits. One thing I really enjoy is listening to all the outdoor summer sounds, and this includes hearing the crickets chirp.

When I was growing up we always spent out summer nights sleeping on a screened in porch. The sound of the crickets always reminds me of good summer memories.

I know some people are annoyed by this constant sound, but I find it kind of comforting. The only bad thing is when one gets in the house. Listening to the chirp of a live cricket in the same room as you is much different than listening to them when they are outside.

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