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.
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.
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.
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.
Most crickets can live for a year or more, but usually can't survive more than one winter.
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.
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.
Many crickets are omnivores: they eat fruit, nectar, seeds, small insects, some leaves, and will even nibble on dead larger animals.
Crickets hide in the daytime, and a very alert to predators. They hope and run fast to get away if they need to.
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.
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.
Crickets are not generally considered endangered.