We have almost 5000 different crickets’ species (Gryllidae) living on our planet. Some crickets can fly and others can’t. There are even crickets’ species which don’t even have wings.
All crickets are insects which belong in Gryllidae Family in Orthoptera group. Some crickets in Gryllidae Family are not capable to fly and many are bad fliers. However, there are crickets have sufficient length wings and generally can fly.
There are two types of cricket species:
- species which have wings
- species which do not have wings
Those crickets which have wings, will always have two pairs of wings. So, crickets have 4 wings in total. 2 hind wings and 2 fore wings.
There are four mostly popular crickets in urban and suburban areas:
A field cricket is very popular cricket that you can find in almost any grass field or hear chirping outside your window during warm summer nights. As you can find in the table it shows “yes/no” answers about wings and capability to fly. Here’s why:
A Field cricket can be split into two types:
- First type – it has short wings (i.e. hind wings are shorter than fore wings).
- Second type – it has long wings (i.e. hind wings are longer than fore wings).
Short winged crickets are flightless. Their wings are too short comparing to their body length and weight. Second type is capable to fly, generally. They can do some jerky moves in the air with the wings to fly only relatively short distances.
How Crickets Defend Themselves?
While there are thousands of crickets’ species – majority are found in Indonesia. Around 700 cricket species can be found across Europe and USA.
Flying is considered one of defense mechanisms to Crickets.
Think about it: crickets on average are very small insects. It means that they are a prey to majority of animals such as other bigger insects, spiders, lizards, turtles, etc. When majority of animal kingdom is trying to catch you and eat whenever there’s a chance, you probably would want to have an option to defend yourself.
Flying is one of the best defense mechanisms there are. What can be better than flying away from a predator on the ground which cannot reach you? Yes, this is great way to survive. Even when a cricket is in the air and can be caught by birds, still, there are bigger chances for a cricket to be eaten on the ground than in the air.
The problem to crickets is that many crickets’ species are not capable to fly, even if they have wings.
A good example was about Field crickets previously (see table above).
So, crickets which are capable to fly can use flying to defend themselves from being eaten. However, those crickets which cannot fly, can become (and is becoming) a problem in some areas in terms of extinct.
As mentioned, on the ground crickets can be eaten by majority of fauna. That is why some crickets’ species which are not capable to fly are decreasing in reproduction. It means that long term existence is uncertain for some crickets’ species which are wingless.
How Crickets Grow Wings?
Crickets usually mature in 6 weeks under optimal conditions. Optimal conditions can depend for different crickets’ species.
For example, perfect conditions for House crickets (Acheta domesticus) is temperature at around 86°F (30°C) and humidity around 40-50% (in captivity). In nature crickets may prefer more humid areas. However, if you’re farming crickets in captivity, humidity should be around 40-50% to avoid the thrive of microbes and parasites.
Crickets don’t have bone structure as humans or animals do. To maintain body form and be able to move, crickets’ bodies are surrounded by shield. It is called exoskeleton.
Exoskeletons do no increase is size. It means that within growing cycle crickets have to get rid of exoskeleton and grow a new one. Crickets grow fast. Hence, crickets molt their exoskeleton ~7 times within their growing cycle (6 weeks).
This is how it looks cricket’s molting process:
Right after molting, crickets change their color to white and their bodies feel like rubber. It takes around 30 min – 1 h (depends on temperature and cricket’s health) how fast new exoskeleton forms.
Fun fact: exoskeleton has chitin, which is nutritious. After molting crickets usually eat their own exoskeleton.
While growing crickets do not have wings formed yet. Wings form only when the last molting happens. So, after molting wings are formed. It means that a cricket is fully mature. It also means, that cricket will not grow anymore in size and won’t molt its exoskeleton as well.
Do Cricket Jump?
Jumping is another great defense mechanism to crickets. Some crickets don’t have wings or have wings but don’t fly or have wings and fly short distances. In contrary, jumping is in every cricket’s instinct. Crickets can jump extraordinary well.
I raise my own crickets (Acheta domesticus) in a small commercial farm. When I started and bred my first batch of crickets, I didn’t have much experience. I raised crickets in 16” (~40 cm) height plastic containers with vertically added paper egg cartons. From the top of container and top of egg carton there was around 4.5″ (~12 cm). When crickets were recently hatched and even 4 weeks old – there were no problems.
Here’s what containers I initially used to breed crickets:
Raising crickets in my small commercial farm was going great for first 4 week. Everything was going smoothly, until 5th week came (after crickets hatched).
As mentioned, during last molting time, crickets form their wings and become mature. So, all crickets in my farm (over 10.000 crickets) started having wings. At that point I was aware, that even crickets grow wings when they mature, they don’t usually fly.
However, what I didn’t think about, is that when crickets mature, they start mating. That results crickets being much more active (comparing to their activity level when they are younger).
They were becoming so active, that when I came one morning to my farm there are thousands of crickets jumping and flying around EVERYWHERE!
I didn’t have lids on the containers, so crickets jumped out easily. Not even jumped out, but also used wings after jumping, to increase jumping distance.
One time I saw cricket jumping ~4 meters with the help of the wings!
It was a challenge to catch all the jumpers and get them inside the containers. It wasn’t enough though. I had to change the containers or add lids on every container (I had 200 containers at a time). So, I built higher containers’ walls so that crickets won’t be able to jump out anymore.
The interesting thing which I noticed when I was catching all the escapees (which jumped from the containers during the night), is that 95% of crickets which jumped out of containers were female crickets.
I think mainly female crickets jumped out from containers, because female crickets are bigger in size than male crickets. It also means that females’ wings are respectively bigger and it was easier for them to jump and fly to escape the containers.
What I found is that 20” (50 cm) container walls work great and I don’t need see any new escapees in my farm since then.
So, if you don’t want to use lids for a cricket tank, you should really use a tank which is bigger than 10 gallons, because crickets will jump out.
A lid is a good solution to prevent crickets from jumping out of the tank, but you will have to make sure a proper ventilation for crickets.
If you’re not sure how to provide sufficient ventilation to crickets, but still want to use lids – check out my other post. There you will find detailed info how to choose a cricket container and use lids appropriately to assure sufficient ventilation to crickets.
A standard 10-gallon tanks are usually not high enough, because they are usually wide, but don’t have high walls. So, unless you can find 10 gallons plastic or glass tank which is 8″ x 16″ x 20″ (20 cm long x 40 cm wide x 50 cm height), you should use a bigger tank.
If you’re planning to raise your own crickets, check out my post about what size container to choose depending on how many crickets you’re planning to keep.
Can Baby Crickets Jump?
Different insect types have different life cycle stages. Crickets belong to a type of insects which go through incomplete metamorphosis. In means that crickets go through these stages:
When insect goes through incomplete metamorphosis, it means that small cricket looks basically the same as adult cricket.
As we already established, adult crickets are jumping very long distances comparing for their body length. Also, with the help of wings they increase the distance.
Due to incomplete metamorphosis, baby crickets can still jump same as adult crickets (respectively to their size). Baby crickets are smaller than an ant, but the minute they hatch from the egg they start jumping around.
The main difference between an adult cricket and a baby cricket, is that the latter doesn’t have wings. That is because wings form only when crickets mature. They become adults after they molt ~7 times.
In summary: majority of crickets are not capable to fly even they have wings. Some crickets’ species don’t have wings at all. If crickets have wings, there are always 2 pairs of them (hind and fore wings). Crickets rub wings one against each other to create chirping sound. Crickets, which can fly, use it as one of the main defend mechanisms from predators. Some crickets’ species are in danger to become endangered species, because they cannot get away from predators as they cannot fly. Those crickets can only use jumping capabilities to try and get away from predators. However, often that is not sufficient to get away from majority of predators, which crickets have plenty.