Image Credit: Luis Fernández García from WikiCommons
The House Cricket is a jumping, chirping food staple that is easier to hear than see.
House Crickets can appear very similar to their cousin - the Grasshopper - but can be separated by the fact that common crickets only have 3 tarsal ('ankle') segmented body sections, and grasshoppers do not. Males are smaller in size than females, which appear to be chubbier. Both sexes have wings that sit on the abdomen and are short when compared to that of the common grasshopper. Individual coloring varies, but most are generally brown or grayish-brown. Females have a long, stiff ovipositor at the tip of the abdomen that looks a lot like a thick stinger. Crickets do not sting, nor bite. The ovipositor is used to deposit eggs into moist organic material. Juveniles have the same body shape as adults; they are just smaller and lack wings.
This species of cricket was commonly used to feed a variety of pets. Spiders, reptiles, and other animals kept in tanks at home depended on crickets for a live meal. A deadly paralyzing virus decimated House Crickets rearing labs in Australia, New Zealand, and Europe in the early 2000's, reducing their population and availability for commercial sales. The Jamaican Field Cricket is resistant to the virus and has replaced the House Cricket for commercial use. In addition to animal feed, House Crickets are also eaten by humans in many parts of the world. They are nutritious, providing a complete protein, and can be served fried, dry-roasted, or in candy.
House Crickets do still occur in the wild. They produce a very familiar nighttime chirping sound. Males do this by rubbing a scraper on one wing against a file on the other. They do this to attract females. Though both grasshoppers and crickets can make these sounds, crickets make theirs at a higher pitch. House Crickets are usually an unwanted house guest; not because they are destructive, but for their incessant, loud chirping all night. It can drive a tired person mad.
Scientific Name: Acheta domesticus
Other Name(s): Cricket on the Hearth
Grasshopper or Cricket
Size (Adult; Length): 16mm to 21mm (0.62in to 0.82in)
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