Before I started to run a commercial cricket farm, I knew that crickets are nutritious and sustainable food source.
However, I was curious to know if crickets in the wild can be harmful to pets and humans in any way, so I did some research and this is what I found.
There’s no scientific record confirming that crickets are harmful to humans or pets. However, crickets are wild creatures. So, if a cricket is found in nature, there’s a chance that they may carry parasites in their bodies.
Is It Actually a Cricket?
There are many insects in the wild. So, let’s say you saw that your pet ate some kind of a bug which was jumping, but you are not sure what bug that was. Or maybe you even didn’t notice what that bug was, because your doggy is a fast hunter and did it before you blinked and realized what happened.
There’s a big chance that the bug which your dog ate was a cricket. Crickets are very popular across the globe (except Antarctica). Crickets thrive in areas where temperature reaches 80-90F. It means that in almost any grass land you can find crickets during warm seasons.
How does a cricket look like?
There are many types of crickets, but most popular is a House Cricket (Acheta Domesticus) and Field Cricket (Gryllus spp).
- Size: 1.5 inch (3.8 cm)
- Legs: 6
- Color: brown-ish
- Distinctive features: 2 long antennas, jumping long distances, males chirp; (males don’t have ovipositor)
By the way, a cricket can be easily confused with grasshoppers. For your bog there’s no difference, but maybe you will be interested to learn what are the differences between crickets and grasshoppers.
Are Crickets Harmful To Dogs?
Most probably the majority of dog owners have been in a situation, when your dog catches a cricket and eats it. Have you ever wondered if eating a cricket is harmful to your dog?
I found It interesting to know that a lot of people are wondering if crickets are safe for dogs to eat. Actually, a poll was made where out of 1,988 received responses, 45% were not sure if crickets are safe to eat for a pet, but didn’t think that they can do much harm. Only 5% claimed that it depends and 3% thought that it is actually not safe (source).
Actually, the truth is that it depends. So, around 100 people where closest to the truth.
I did quite a big research and wasn’t able to find any evidence that a cricket itself can be harmful to dogs. Despite, crickets in the wild can carry a parasite called Physaloptera. This parasite can be transmitted through crickets into dog’s stomach and cause gastritis and vomiting in dogs. However, such infestation is relatively infrequent in dogs (source).
The problem with this parasite’s eggs are very small and when larvae fully forms it is around 1 inch (2.5 cm). Usually it can be hard for a veterinarian to notice it during dog’s stomach check.
Crickets usually hang around one-by-one, so most probably your dog won’t be able to find and catch more than one or two crickets at a time. The odds that the eaten cricket was carrying a parasite is very low. Hence, you shouldn’t worry if your dog caught itself a snack!
Despite, if you notice that your dog ate a cricket and after a while started to vomit and situation is not getting better, you should definitely bring your dog to a professional vet to evaluate and confirm what is the actual cause of it.
Are Crickets Harmful To Cats?
Cats are usually raised at home, so chances to find a cricket inside a home is quite low.
However, if a cricket got inside your home and your cat ate it you shouldn’t worry. Many insects may be dangerous to your cat as thy can sting. In contrary, crickets don’t have stings not they can bite to harm your cat.
Crickets have exoskeleton though, which works as a defend mechanism from predators, because exoskeleton in the only part in their body which works as a shield. Adult crickets are about 1.5-inch (3.8 cm) size and has stronger exoskeleton comparing to immature crickets. However, predator needs to be very small in order for crickets to survive and not being crushed. Any cat, even a kitten will be able to crush a cricket.
Interesting fact: crickets molt ~7 times through their lifetime. If you’re interested to know more about crickets’ anatomy and exoskeletons, check out my post here.
Same as for dogs, cats most probably will not get sick because they eaten a live cricket. However, as mentioned in the section about the dogs, crickets may transfer parasites into your pet’s gut. It may result gastritis or vomit to your pet.
There’s no scientific proof to be found yet, that crickets are harmful to cats. Despite, if you will notice that your cat ate a cricket or two and you noticed that after that cat started not to feel well or maybe started vomiting, you should definitely seek advice for a professional vet to properly evaluate what resulted the sickness to your cat.
Are Crickets Harmful To Plants?
Crickets are omnivorous, meaning they can eat both plant and animal origin.
If you noticed a cricket jumping in your garden or back-yard, you shouldn‘t be worried that it will make harm to your plants. Crickets are very small bugs. Mature cricket is around 1.5-inches (3.8 cm) long. So one or two won‘t do noticeable harm to your plants.
However, everything has limits, right? If you see a bunch of crickets jumping around your plants or there‘s some kind of crickets‘ invasion hapenning, then yes, crickets will definitelly do harm to plants.
Crickets in the wild usually eat anything what they find in their way. Depending on the area crickets may like to eat different flora. Though, usually this is what crickets may prefer to eat in the wild:
Crickets usually a migrating insects. They are also very cautious and everything what moves they consider as danger. So, if you have your small garden in the back yard and there‘s much activity happening in there, then most probably a cricket will jump away quite fast. Hence, if you take care of your garden, then crickets won‘t noticeably affect your plants.
Moreover, crickets usually are hanging around one-by-one. It means that chances are very low that a group of crickets will jump and stay in your garden.
Crickets lay eggs in humid and warm areas. Female crickets lay eggs into the ground. One female can lay around 5-10 eggs per one sitting. Within a lifetime of a cricket it can lay ~100 eggs. If it happens that cricket laid eggs in your garden, you still can stay calm. Hatched crickets will be very small, you could hardly even see them (they are smaller than a fruit-fly). Within some time they will jump in different directions and you won‘t even notice they were around your plants.
By the way, only male crickets do the chirping sound which are are used to hear during warm summer nights. If you‘re interested to know more why do crickets chirp, check out my other post.
Are Crickets Harmful To Humans?
Insects in general are already being consumed by 80% people on our planet. In fact, crickets are known to be so nutritious as they outrun chicken and beef. Plus, crickets require much less water and food when comparing to chickens and cows, which is good for the environment.
Crickets raised in captivity for human consumption are not harmful. Of course, crickets need to be raised properly in order to be able to be eaten by humans.
I raise crickets commercially for a while now, and eat crickets myself regularly. Of course, I do not eat them alive. However, in Eastern countries people eat live crickets all the time. Though, I didn’t find any data to confirm if there are any health concerns to humans for eating live crickets.
I made laboratory tests of my crickets to understand what actually nutritious value crickets provide to humans. Here are the results:
So, these are the main nutrients my raised crickets have per 3.5 oz (100 gr):
- 59.5% protein
- 22.6% fat
- 9.2% carbs
Overall, energy value of my crickets are 2004 kilojoules (kj) per 3.5 oz (100 gr). In comparison:
- chicken breast has 690 kilo-joules (kj) per 3.5 oz (100 gr).
- Beef steak has 488 kilo-joules (kj) per 3.5 oz (100 gr) .
Crickets have more values than being nutritious. If you want to understand more why crickets are useful, check out my other post here.
Before I eat the crickets that I raise myself, they have to be appropriately harvested and prepared, so they could be eaten without any health concerns.
This is how crickets are harvested and prepared for human consumption:
- After crickets are ready to be harvested, food is taken out of crickets’ container for at least 24 hours (for the guts to clean out)
- Crickets are frozen under -21 C for at least 12 hours.
- Frozen crickets are boiled for 2-3 mins for disinfection
- Crickets are dried in oven or food drier for 7-12 hours under 45-80C.
- Crickets are ready for human consumption as a snack. Also, at this points crickets could also be ground to cricket flour which is used as a supplementary food in various dishes.
What I also do it add extra seasonings to have different flavors of crickets. I prefer cinnamon, barbecue and Chipotle seasonings.
So, crickets raised in captivity and properly handled and prepared for human consumption will not harm in any way – it is a great nutrient source for your body. However, you should not try to catch a live cricket in the wild and eat it. You should better just order online different dried crickets flavors and try yourself how they actually taste!