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grillons, true crickets, Grillen

Gryllidae

What do they look like?

Crickets are medium-sized to large insects. Like their relatives the grasshoppers and katydids, they have chewing mouthparts, and their back legs are larger and stronger than than the other two pair. They have rounded heads, antennae that are long and thin, and their wings bend down on the sides of their body. Unlike katydids, crickets often look flat, or at least the top of their body is flattened. Most crickets are brown, but some are black and some tree crickets are green with whitish wings. Most male crickets chirp by rubbing their front wings together, their wings have special structures for this. Both males and females have ears, but they are on their legs! They are smooth round structures on their lower legs. Female crickets have a thin round tube on the end of their abdomen that they use to lay their eggs. This structure is a called an ovipositor. Female katydids have an ovipositor too, but it is flattened, while the crickets' ovipositor is round.

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • female larger

Where do they live?

Crickets are found all around the world. There are over 120 species in the United States, and at least 14 are found in southeastern Michigan.

What kind of habitat do they need?

Crickets are found on the soil, hiding under dead plants or on live plants. They only occur where there is plant material to eat, and they are most diverse and abundant in humid areas with lots of plants.

How do they grow?

Crickets have incomplete metamorphosis. The young crickets that hatch from eggs look a lot like adults, though they don't have wings. They molt as they grow, and stop growing once they become adults. Only adults have wings. Most cricket species survive the winter in the egg stage, but some survive as nymphs (immature) or adults.

How long do they live?

Most crickets can live for a year or more, but usually can't survive more than one winter.

How do they behave?

Male crickets often choose particular locations to call from so they get the best sound they can. They defend these places from other males. Like all insects, crickets are affected by the temperature. They are more active and chirp faster and louder on a warm night than on a cold one.

How do they communicate with each other?

Crickets communicate mainly by sound, scent, and touch. They can see, but not well. Males sometime have chirping "duels", each one trying to sound better for potential mates. Some small species of crickets don't chirp, and use scent and touch to find each other and communicate.

What do they eat?

Many crickets are omnivores: they eat fruit, nectar, seeds, small insects, some leaves, and will even nibble on dead larger animals.

What eats them and how do they avoid being eaten?

Crickets hide in the daytime, and a very alert to predators. They hope and run fast to get away if they need to.

Do they cause problems?

Crickets can sometimes be an agricultural pest, eating seeds or crops, but this is rare. Once in a while they get in someone's house, and are annoying, but on the whole crickets are not major pests.

  • Ways that these animals might be a problem for humans
  • crop pest
  • household pest

How do they interact with us?

Crickets are not too important in economic terms. In some countries they are popular pets, and many people like to hear them chirping at night.

Are they endangered?

Crickets are not generally considered endangered.

  • IUCN Red List [Link]
    Not Evaluated

Glossary

Australian

Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.

World Map

Ethiopian

living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.

World Map

Nearctic

living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map

Neotropical

living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map

Palearctic

living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

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bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends.

carnivore

an animal that mainly eats meat

chaparral

mid-altitude coastal areas with mild, rainy winters and long, dry summers. Dominant plant types are dense, evergreen shrubs.

desert or dunes

in deserts low (less than 30 cm per year) and unpredictable rainfall results in landscapes dominated by plants and animals adapted to aridity. Vegetation is typically sparse, though spectacular blooms may occur following rain. Deserts can be cold or warm and daily temperates typically fluctuate. In dune areas vegetation is also sparse and conditions are dry. This is because sand does not hold water well so little is available to plants. In dunes near seas and oceans this is compounded by the influence of salt in the air and soil. Salt limits the ability of plants to take up water through their roots.

ectothermic

animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature

fertilization

union of egg and spermatozoan

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

herbivore

An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body

iteroparous

offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

marsh

marshes are wetland areas often dominated by grasses and reeds.

metamorphosis

A large change in the shape or structure of an animal that happens as the animal grows. In insects, "incomplete metamorphosis" is when young animals are similar to adults and change gradually into the adult form, and "complete metamorphosis" is when there is a profound change between larval and adult forms. Butterflies have complete metamorphosis, grasshoppers have incomplete metamorphosis.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

mountains

This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

nocturnal

active during the night

oceanic islands

islands that are not part of continental shelf areas, they are not, and have never been, connected to a continental land mass, most typically these are volcanic islands.

omnivore

an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals

oriental

found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map

oviparous

reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

polar

the regions of the earth that surround the north and south poles, from the north pole to 60 degrees north and from the south pole to 60 degrees south.

rainforest

rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Climbing plants are also abundant. There is plenty of moisture and rain, but may be somewhat seasonal.

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sedentary

remains in the same area

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

solitary

lives alone

swamp

a wetland area that may be permanently or intermittently covered in water, often dominated by woody vegetation.

taiga

this biome is characterized by large expanses of coniferous forest, there is an extended cold season and heavy snowfall.

temperate

that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).

territorial

defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement

tropical

the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

 
University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

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. "Gryllidae" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 16, 2014 at http://www.biokids.umich.edu/accounts/Gryllidae/

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
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