More than 900 species of crickets are described; the Gryllidae are distributed all around the world except at latitudes 55° or higher, with the greatest diversity being in the tropics. They occur in varied habitats from grassland, bushes, and forests to marshes, beaches, and caves. Crickets are mainly nocturnal, and are best known for the loud, persistent, chirping song of males trying to attract females, although some species are mute. The singing species have good hearing, via the tympani (eardrums) on the tibiae of the front legs.
Crickets are relatively defenseless, soft-bodied insects. Most species are nocturnal and spend the day hidden in cracks, under bark, inside curling leaves, under stones or fallen logs, in leaf litter, or in the cracks in the ground that develop in dry weather. Some excavate their own shallow holes in rotting wood or underground and fold in their antennae to conceal their presence. Some of these burrows are temporary shelters, used for a single day, but others serve as more permanent residences and places for mating and laying eggs. Crickets burrow by loosening the soil with the mandibles and then carrying it with the limbs, flicking it backwards with the hind legs or pushing it with the head. Other defensive strategies are the use of camouflage, fleeing, and aggression. Some species have adopted colourings, shapes, and patterns that make it difficult for predators that hunt by sight to detect them. They tend to be dull shades of brown, grey, and green that blend into their background, and desert species tend to be pale. Some species can fly, but the mode of flight tends to be clumsy, so the most usual response to danger is to scuttle away to find a hiding place.
Most male crickets make a loud chirping sound by stridulation. The stridulatory organ is located on the tegmen, or fore wing, which is leathery in texture.
Captive crickets are omnivorous; when deprived of their natural diet, they accept a wide range of organic foodstuffs. Some species are completely herbivorous, feeding on flowers, fruit, and leaves, with ground-based species consuming seedlings, grasses, pieces of leaf, and the shoots of young plants. Others are more predatory and include in their diet invertebrate eggs, larvae, pupae, moulting insects scale, and aphids. Many are scavengers and consume various organic remains, decaying plants, seedlings, and fungi. In captivity, many species have been successfully reared on a diet of ground, commercial dry dog food, supplemented with lettuce and aphids.Crickets have relatively powerful jaws, and several species have been known to bite humans.
Reproduction and lifecycle
Male crickets establish their dominance over each other by aggression. They start by lashing each other with their antennae and flaring their mandibles. Unless one retreats at this stage, they resort to grappling, at the same time each emitting calls that are quite unlike those uttered in other circumstances. When one achieves dominance, it sings loudly, while the loser remains silent.
Females are generally attracted to males by their calls, though in nonstridulatory species, some other mechanism must be involved. After the pair has made antennal contact, a courtship period may occur during which the character of the call changes. The female mounts the male and a single spermatophore is transferred to the external genitalia of the female. Sperm flows from this into the female's oviduct over a period of a few minutes or up to an hour, depending on species. After copulation, the female may remove or eat the spermatophore; males may attempt to prevent this with various ritualised behaviours.
The female may mate on several occasions with different males. Most crickets lay their eggs in the soil or inside the stems of plants, and to do this, female crickets have a long, needle-like or sabre-like egg-laying organ called an ovipositor. Some ground-dwelling species have dispensed with this, either depositing their eggs in an underground chamber or pushing them into the wall of a burrow. Crickets are hemimetabolic insects, whose lifecycle consists of an egg stage, a larval or nymph stage that increasingly resembles the adult form as the nymph grows, and an adult stage.
Predators, parasites, and pathogens:
Crickets have many natural enemies and are subject to various pathogens and parasites. They are eaten by large numbers of vertebrate and invertebrate predators and their hard parts are often found when the contents of animal's guts are examined.
Keep Crickets Out:
Crickets can only enter the home if there is an opening for them to get in, and they can only survive if conditions allow. So, to prevent infestations:
- Caulk or seal all potential entry points, such as cracks in the foundation, and gaps around doors and low windows.
- Keep the foundation and perimeter of the home free of grass, weeds, and mulch.
- Never store organic material or debris near the home. Reduce harborage by setting trash cans up on bricks.
- Inside the home, reduce clutter, piles, etc. to reduce potential harborage and hiding areas
Contact your pest management professional and request an inspection, to prepare a comprehensive pest management plan that will effectively and efficiently deal with the specific pest problem.