Nature Bulletin No. 125 October 4, 1947
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
William N. Erickson, President
Roberts Mann, Supt. of Conservation
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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Update: June 2012