If you’ve ever been relaxing in the long grassy fields on a hot Summer’s day, you’ve probably had the pleasure (or mis-pleasure) of hearing the chirping sounds of crickets and alike insects.
Crickets are pretty much on every continent and are far more common than you think. Plus, every time you believe you hear a grasshopper chirping away while the sun sets in the distance, it’s more than likely to be a cricket trying to get the ladies to listen to his song.
In fact, the types of crickets and their chirps have become a synonymous part to a silent (or, maybe, not so silent) night under the starts in a warm country. For example, you may have been to Spain on a family holiday and heard chirping in the bushes while walking back to the villa after the perfect Spanish dinner.
Alternatively, they could be your gateway to the memories of the Italian story of Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket.
With that, the team here at The Hobby Kraze wanted to shed a little light on these small, yet loud, invertebrate hiding in nature.
Here’s what we’ll be covering in this article. From understanding how to identify crickets and why you can hear crickets all the way through to how to handle crickets and the 17 different types of crickets you may see on your travels:
- What Are Crickets?
- The Reason Why You Can Hear Crickets Chirping Away
- Do All Crickets Make A Chirping Noise?
- How to Handle Crickets and Keep them Alive
- The Difference Between Crickets, Locusts and Grasshoppers
- A Look into 17 of the Different Cricket Types from Around the Warm World
One thing we should probably make note of before getting closer to the sounds of nature at play is that not every cricket chirps.
While it’s what we’ve referred to a lot so far, there are actually many species of cricket out there that don’t make any noise at all. This is simply because they’ve evolved differently and will simply have a different walk of life to their chirping cousins.
P.S. there are also some crickets who can’t fly. These two little facts actually go hand-in-hand, but you’ll have to keep reading to find out why!
What Are Crickets?
Crickets are nocturnal insects that belong to the family of Gryllidae which makes them a close cousin of the grasshopper and the locust. This is why they are always commonly mistaken for one another in terms of both the chirp they make and their small bodies.
Interestingly, there isn’t an exact number on the various different cricket types out there. But there is believed to be around 900 by scientists. For a bit of perspective, Malaysia once had a congregation of 88 different species all found to be chirping in the same spot!
These small insects are invertebrates as they don’t have a backbone and, instead, have an exoskeleton. In terms of what most types of crickets look like, they have a cylindrical body and a round head that ranges from 3mm to 50mm as well as very long antennae.
Just like many insects out there such as ants and flies, the cricket has three sections of the body: the head, the thorax and the abdomen.
They have two sets of legs emerging from the thorax and another very thick pair of legs emerging from the abdomen. This set of hind legs are larger than the others simply to help gain height and distance with jumping. Most crickets will also have two sets of wings attached to the thorax that sit streamlined on the body. These are the fore and hind wings however, like chickens being a flightless bird, many cricket species who have wings don’t actually use them for flight.
The anatomy of female crickets has a few extra parts tho help with mating and mothering. The first is the ovipositor: a very large pointer coming out of the abdomen that helps to lay eggs underground. Then, there are the ears. But surprisingly, these hears are located on the female cricket’s front legs.
So, if you’re looking for how to identify crickets between the males and the females, look for the ovipositor and ears!
The Reason Why You Can Hear Crickets Chirping Away
Nearly all types of crickets will chirp away under the night sky. However, it’s worth noting that only the male crickets will chirp.
This is because male crickets chirp with the intention of attracting a lovely female cricket so they can mate and create their very own cricket family.
The reason why you can hear crickets chirping is because the male crickets will rub their wings together faster than the eyes can see. This practice is called stridulation. They’ll lift their fore wings up to a 45-degree angle and rub one on top of the other.
On the underside of their wings, they have a line of approximately 250 microscopic teeth. This line is called the ‘file’ and runs across the width of the wing. Both wings also have a hard edge called the ‘scraper’ which runs across the file when the types of crickets decide to rub their wings together and chirp.
But it isn’t without some speed, too. The reason why you can hear crickets so clearly despite being so small is due to the speed they rub their wings; as mentioned, it can be faster than the eyes can see. More specifically, it the frequency of a chirp depends on the number of teeth on the file struck by the scraper in a minute.
However, this will depend on the types of crickets in question; some different cricket types can hit around 1,500 teeth in a minute while others can complete around 10,000 cycles!
As well as this, it’s worth noting you can probably hear a few different types of chirp. And, while this isn’t an indication for how to identify crickets by species, it can help to identify the age of a cricket and where they are in their mating call.
For instance, a cricket chirping their whole life will wear away their file after some time, meaning the chirp can become fainter and raspier in comparison to their younger chirping days.
Then, there are the different songs: the calling chirp, the courting chirp and the fighting chirp. The calling chirp is very loud and consistent and helps the female find their way to the chirper in question. The courting chirp is a lot quieter and more like a whisper. Finally, the fighting chirp can be very loud and sporadic and is used to ward off other males in the area.
Do All Crickets Make A Chirping Noise?
We’ve already slighty touched on this but no, not all crickets chirp.
For one, female crickets don’t have the file or scraper needed to create a chirp. Another thing to note is that not all species or types of crickets even have wings such as the Camel Cricket and the Jerusalem Cricket.
So, instead of stridulation, these types of crickets have other ways of calling out to their mates. For example, the Jerusalem Cricket is a burrowing insect that doesn’t have any wings to chirp. So, they use their abdomen to hit the ground creating a patterned thump only native to the female cricket.
Other different cricket types that are wingless use hissing; they push air through their bodies, vibrate their exoskeleton and create a hissing sound that attracts their mates. However, interestingly, this noise is also used as a way to deter predators as they don’t have the capacity to fly away from danger.
How to Handle Crickets and Keep them Alive
The first thing to consider when looking at how to handle crickets and keep them alive is where they come from and the habitats the like to live in.
For one, crickets are cold-blooded insects that absorb the outside temperatures. With this, they much prefer the warmer weathers and tropics and can often be found in temperate countries. Typically speaking, they aren’t really found in regions higher than a latitude of 55-degrees either North or South.
This is echoed when knowing how to identify crickets in the UK is only about being able to distinguish approximately 30 species of cricket rather than the full 900.
So, we know they like warm temperatures, in fact it’s best to keep cricket enclosures at around 30-degrees. Next up is knowing what they like to eat. As omnivores, knowing how to handle crickets can be pretty easy as they’re not very picky at all. So, anything from mashed chicken and oatmeal to rotting vegetation and even other crickets will do just fine for dinner.
Another thing to note is the preferred burrowing situation. If you’re going to keep crickets at home, whether it’s to feed other pets, to breed and sell or to keep as your own pets, you’ll need to know how they like to live in order ensure they’re kept stress-free and live as long as possible.
With this, they tend to want to burrow in dark areas. Being nocturnal creatures, it’s rare they live under daylight. So, biodegradable containers such as egg cartons tend to be the perfect dark burrowing areas for your crickets!
The Difference Between Crickets, Locusts and Grasshoppers
Crickets, grasshoppers and locusts are always confused with one-another when it comes to hearing the chirps or seeing the insect themselves. However, one thing we can clear up that doesn’t yet involve the types of crickets is a confusion between locusts and grasshoppers.
Locusts are actually a type of grasshopper; they are much larger and are very strong fliers with the ability to swarm across long distances. Unfortunately, this swarming action is to look for food and the ground they cover will destroy crops along the way.
In areas like Africa and the Middle East, these migratory locusts have been known to cause droughts, the spread of disease and largescale hunger.
Now we’ve got locusts out of the way, it’s time to focus on the differences between crickets and grasshoppers as well as how to identify crickets from the crowd.
Grasshoppers and the different cricket types are all part of the Orthoptera family of invertebrate. With this, they have many similarities in terms of general looks, colours, living trends and chirping noises. However, there are a great many differences that separate them, too.
For one, grasshoppers have relatively short antennae. They’re also ribbed, slightly thicker and feature a structure in the shape of the letter ‘L’. Crickets, on the other hand, have much smoother (at the naked eye) antennae that are as long as their bodies. They curve downwards and have a thinner, more flexible structure.
Another difference would be the way they chirp. As we’ve mentioned, stridulation for various types of crickets occurs with the wings. But, unlike crickets, grasshoppers rub their much larger hind legs against the sharp edge of their forewings.
Other differences between the two include their activity cycle; grasshoppers are day-dwellers which makes them diurnal while crickets are night-time lovers which makes them nocturnal insects.
Finally, there’s the diet. Again, as mentioned crickets are not fussy about what’s served up. In fact, they’re known to be scavengers eating anything they can find which makes them omnivores. On the other side of the coin is the vegetarian version of the cricket; the herbivore grasshopper who only eats leaves, flowers and seeds.
A Look into 17 of the Different Cricket Types from Around the Warm World
With so many types of crickets crawling and flying around, it’d be impossible the name them all in one article. Especially considering there is no definitive answer to how many different cricket types there actually are, just a ball-park figure of 900.
So, the team here at The Hobby Kraze have bumped noggins and gathered 17 of the different cricket types you’re most likely to find when travelling the world.
Of course, if you’re not entirely sure how to go about travelling the world and seeing these small creatures in all their natural glory, you’ll have to have a gander at our other article; “The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Backpacking”.
In the meantime, here are the 17 various types of cricket you can hear chirping under the starry night sky:
Australian Field Cricket (Teleogryllus Oceanicus)
These black and brown crickets are actually one of the most popular types of crickets you’ll see flying about. They were taken across the world in the 17th century on ships from Australia and allowed to colonise wherever the ship docked. They typically have stripes on their back and will range from around 30 to 37mm in length with females being on the larger end of the scale.
Banded Cricket (Gryllodes Sigillatus)
Also known as the tropical house cricket, these small insects are native to South-Western Asia. In fact, they’re actually known as a protein-filled type of street cuisine due to the slightly softer exoskeleton. They generally grow to around 13 to 17mm which is noticeably smaller than their House Cricket cousins. A final note is that their namesake is attributed to the black band that runs around the thorax of the cricket (meaning they’re pretty easy to spot in a crowd!).
Black Cricket (Teleogryllus Commodus)
Almost identical to the darker species of the Australian Field Cricket, the Black Cricket has a slightly different stridulation due to a lower count of teeth on their file. As well as this, they have evolved with a white thorax band and more powerful legs for better hopping capabilities rather than flying. They also tend to be the destroyer of fields with crops such as sunflower, soybean and other cereal crops.
Camel Cricket (Rhaphidophoridae)
The Camel Cricket is one of those types of crickets with such as distinct body separating it from their cousins. With this, they’re often called Spider Crickets. They have long, angular and striped legs, a short thorax and abdomen, a light colour in the body, a humped back (hence ‘camel’) and no wings. However, they are big pests; with finding out how to identify crickets seeming to be a case of looking at the condition of upholstery.
Ground Cricket (Acanthoplus Discoidalis)
Also known as the Armoured Ground Cricket and the Corn Cricket, the species is native to Southern parts of Africa such as Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Characteristically, they’re very territorial insects growing to 50mm in length with defence mechanisms such as having conical spines on the thorax instead of wings. They are also known biters with the ability to spit blood to ward off attackers.
House Cricket (Acheta Domesticus)
More commonly found in Europe, the House Cricket can grow to a slightly longer 21mm instead of their smaller cousins in Asia. They range from grey to brown and don’t have any notable features such as bands, spikes or extra-long legs. Interestingly, these types of crickets were also a delicacy for any Asian cultures as they have high protein and Omege-3 nutrition. However, a disease in 2010 meant the majority of House Crickets in Europe were wiped out.
Jamaican Field Cricket (Gryllus Assimilis)
Also known in the cricket-breeding rings as the Silent Cricket, this is another wingless and flightless cricket whose mating call consists of something different. They’re commonly found in Southern US and South America. But the most notable feature of the Jamaican Field Cricket is their immunity to diseases such as the 2010 disease that wiped out many of the House Crickets. With this, these short-and-stout brown crickets are commonly used as dinner for many reptile pets throughout the US and Europe.
Jerusalem Cricket (Stenopelmatus)
The different cricket types can really crack you up when you look up-close. When it comes to the Jerusalem Cricket, they’re often nicknamed the ‘old bald-headed men’ of insects and you’ll see why. They have a round body that can sometimes resemble that of a human as well as the ability to emit a very terrible smell to ward away any predators. Other notable features include six thick legs, stripes across the abdomen, no wings and stridulating habits of hissing by rubbing their hind legs on their abdomen.
Katydid Cricket (Pterophylla Camellifolia)
With other names such as the Bush Cricket, these types of crickets like to live in green-rich areas such as the Amazon Rainforest but have been known to set up camp anywhere except Antarctica. They also have the biggest size range with the potential to mature at either 10 or 60mm with a specific sub-type called the Matriarchal Katydid Cricket growing to 120mm and often being confused with a grasshopper. Katydid Crickets are actually known for their stridulation songs which can be more aggressive and territorial.
King Cricket (Libanasidus Vittatus)
Also called the Parktown Prawn Cricket, the African King Cricket and the Tusked Cricket, this small invertebrate wasn’t even known until a 1960 discovery in Johannesburg. They have a distinct red body beginning at the head but turning to a black-brown colour as it reaches the abdomen. They are pretty common faces around the Southern African countries but aren’t hated as their omnivore diets help to keep snail populations at bay.
Mole Cricket (Gryllotalpa Brachyptera)
The bane of any Animal Crossing player’s life is this small chirping underground creature. They live underground and have become a big agricultural problem for many regions of the Americas. With that, they mostly don’t have wings. Instead, they have small oval bodies with very short and shovel-like fore legs to help with the burrowing process. However, when they reach adulthood, they grow wings specifically for breeding.
Mormon Cricket (Anabrus Simplex)
While not Mormons themselves, these crickets were actually discovered by Mormon settlers in Utah. They grow to an incredible 80mm in length and – although they’re completely wingless and flightless types of crickets – they can cover up to 2KM of ground in just one day of swarming. Unfortunately, this has been known to be a traffic hazard for large urban areas and an agricultural risk in the rural parts, too.
Pygmy Mole Cricket (Tridactylidae)
Generally growing to just 20mm, they really are a Pygmy Mole Cricket. They typically have black and shiny bodies as well as oddly large heads in comparison to the rest of their body. They can be found on almost all continents like the Katydid Cricket. However, uncharacteristically to the cricket, they like to burrow under wetter grounds, with some being known to swim thanks to their enlarged heads.
Roesel’s Bush Cricket (Roeseliana Roeselii)
The Roesel’s Bush Cricket is a European-based cricket named after their discoverer: August Johann Rösel von Rosenhof. They are medium-sized crickets growing to a range of 13 to 36mm in length. These European natives have a very stand-out body that can be classed as stunning due to the colours and patterns. With greens, yellows, reds, whites and browns in psychedelic patterns, the Roesel’s Bush Cricket isn’t something easily mistaken.
Snowy Tree Cricket (Oecanthus Fultoni)
The Snowy Tree Cricket is a slightly translucent-winged insect that can camouflage into the leaves on trees due to their bright green body and thin appendages. When feeding on tree leaves, it can also damage fruit but has been known to fill the soundtrack for chirping creatures on the big screen. A final fun fact for these types of crickets is that they’re also dubbed the Thermometer Cricket because adding 40 to the number of chirps in a 15-second burst tells the temperature in Fahrenheit.
Tree Cricket (Oecanthinae)
With a very bright green body, the common Tree Cricket often lives within the bushes, camouflaging like the Snowy Tree Cricket but with a little less translucence. These nocturnal insects are another ‘can be found anywhere’ type of bug but were only found in the UK as recently as 2015. Another notable feature of the Tree Cricket includes the very long legs allowing for long-distanced jumping between the trees.
True Cricket (Grylloidea)
The final of the 17 types of crickets in this guide to small crawling invertebrates is the True Cricket. Often just a term used to describe a cricket that can be described by the conventional features such as the long and flat body, wings and long antennae, they have their own features. Much like their sub-type cousins, the Roesel’s Bush Cricket and the Mole Cricket, they are rather large in length. They’re also common to Asia as deep-fried skewer snacks!
The chirping action has been brought to a close and that is the end of our ultimate guide into the (maybe) wonderful world of crickets. We’ve learned what they are, why some of them chirp, how to handle crickets and how to identify crickets apart from the distant relatives of grasshoppers and locusts.
Our team here at The Hobby Kraze are hard at work making sure we jot down pretty much everything to answer your worldly queries. But if you still have some questions in need of answering, even if it’s more about different cricket types, let us know and there’ll be a new special coming your way straight from The Hobby Kraze!
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