Friday, April 24, 2009

Crickets Will Be the Death of Me

That's me under this pile of crickets. Just kidding!!
I am getting very annoyed with my crickets. For the past several years I have been purchasing crickets, a thousand at a time, to feed my obsession with reptiles. Here is a typical male and female cricket. The female is on the right. She is the one with the ovipositer (looks like a stick) between her legs. I will get to the male anatomy later on.

On several occasions I have tried to breed crickets with no success. Recently I saw a video clip on You Tube from a young boy who explains, matter of fact, how to do it. It made me MAD! This cricket breeding endeavor is not panning out for me. How can a young kid do this so easily and I have been trying to breed crickets for years with no success?? I'm also having trouble incubating chicken eggs but I will save that sad story for a later post... This is how the female cricket lays her eggs. The eggs (800 over her lifetime) look like this. After watching the numerous video clips on You Tube, I decided to try it again. Since Easter Sunday my coat closet has been transformed into an 88 degree cricket breeding hotel. So far, nothing is happening except for the great proliferation of fruit flies who love the place. Now I have a new plan. I have changed the substrate from store bought soil to peat moss and the crickets love it. They are laying eggs like crazy. I also changed my heating arrangement from an electric heater to a tub with water. I inserted an aquarium heater into the water to make it the ideal 88 degree and then floated a smaller tub over the water. That is where I placed the boxes of peat moss laden with (hopefully) thousands of cricket eggs. I will let you know in eleven days if this works. If not, you will see another sorry post from me of yet another failed attempt at breeding crickets... Meanwhile, take a look at these photographs I took with our QE5 microscope.
This is NOT a cricket for all of you novice people out there who hate insects. This is a katydid that a student brought in to share. Katydids, grasshoppers and crickets are all in the same insect family. However, Katydids are more closely related to crickets. Their antennae are often two to three times the length of their bodies. They often blend into their surrounding very well and are almost exclusively crepuscular (active from dusk to dawn) to further avoid predation.Grasshoppers tend to like the sun and the open grassy areas. They are often green. Crickets like to hide in the darker places and they are more active at night.
Cricket leg. No need to work out at the gym for these critters...
This is the body part that makes all the racket at night. The male cricket has wings that are serrated like a file. They scrape their wings together to make the wonderful sound that we hear from them. Only the males have this feature.

Lovely mandibles for chewing.
Multiple eyes to see from many directions. You would think those eye lashes poking into his eyes would really bother him.

This is the cricket's ear believe it or not. I had a hard time getting him to lay still for this photo. Crickets have ears on the inside of their front leg.

I will post about these amazing creatures again if all goes well in my coat closet. Wish me luck!


Rachel said...


Kit-bert: "semi" eevil HR Director said...

I couldn't have said it better myself...proof of a true nature lover.

sandy blue said...

i love crickets not to use for bait but just to watch i liked seeing the cricket egg pics gave me an idea of what my cricket eggs look like. i have two girls and possibly a boy. so we'll see if the eggs hatch