Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Illinois
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Crickets
Nature Bulletin No. 125   October 4, 1947
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
William N. Erickson, President
Roberts Mann, Supt. of Conservation

CRICKETS
The hero of Charles Dickens' story, "Cricket on the Hearth", was the straw-colored house or domestic cricket. Imported from England, we frequently find it in our homes and hear it chirping cheerily at night. Crickets avoid light. With their long powerful legs for leaping, they are hard to catch and can become a pest -- eating holes in carpets and clothing. Some folks think they bring good luck Some folks keep them as pets, in tiny cages, for their singing.

The large black crickets found out-of-doors under stones or logs or boards, and the small brown crickets found in thick grass or under fallen leaves, are some of the many native species. So is the cave cricket, or camel cricket, that lives in caves. So are the mole crickets, with their board shovel-like forelegs, that live in burrows in the ground. So is the Snowy Tree Cricket, also called the Temperature Cricket because, if you count the number of chirps in 15 seconds and add about 38 or 39, the answer will be the temperature Fahrenheit -- "about" because some crickets chirp more rapidly at a given temperature than others do.

Only the males chirp. Adult crickets have two pairs of wings but only the male has a heavy rib, with fine file-like teeth, on the under side of each front wing. on the upper side of each front wing he has a more or less circular rough space. The chirp is made by rubbing the two front wings together as they are moved rapidly from side to side.

The female has a conspicuous apparatus on her hind end for laying eggs. Using it like a tiny crowbar, she digs holes in the ground. In each hole she lays one egg. If laid in early summer they hatch in a few weeks. If laid in autumn they remain unhatched until spring. The house cricket probably lays her eggs in cracks in the floor. Freshly hatched young crickets resemble the adults but are very small and have no wings. Eating almost anything it can chew, each grows until its tough skin splits open and out it crawls with a new and larger skin. There are several such "molts" before it finally emerges as an adult.

The cricket leads a merry life: meek and voiceless is his wife.


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