I run a commercial cricket farm. Before I started working on it, I had to understand what an actual cricket life cycle is, so I could take care of my crickets appropriately. Here’s what I found from my research and experience from running cricket farm later on.
A House Cricket life cycle stages:
- Egg (0-11 days)
- Nymph (6 weeks)
- Adult (6 weeks and onwards)
Pros and Cons of Cricket Life Cycle Stages
Crickets are one of the insect types which have incomplete metamorphosis. It means that an insect’s life cycle goes through 3 stages: egg, nymph, adult. Incomplete metamorphosis stages have some advantages and disadvantages.
The advantage is that crickets don’t have fourth life cycle stage. Insects with complete metamorphosis have additional life cycle stage which is called pupa. This stage is the most vulnerable life cycle stage for an insect, because it is an easy catch for predators and an insect cannot defend itself when in pupa stage.
Good, that crickets don’t go through pupa stage during the life cycles, so it makes their life easier and increases changes of survival in nature until adulthood.
The main disadvantage for crickets going only through three life cycle stages is that both nymph cricket and adult cricket share same food source. Meaning, bigger crickets eat smaller crickets. It makes crickets being called cannibals for that.
TIP: When I raise crickets in my farm, I always make sure that nymph crickets don’t mix with adult crickets. The reason is incomplete metamorphosis. If you raise your crickets, you may want to check my post how to breed crickets to avoid cannibalism situation within your crickets.
On the contrary, insects with complete metamorphosis don‘t have cannibalism problems.
As mentioned, a complete metamorphosis is when an insect goes through 4 stages:
So, insects with complete metamorphosis usually have different food sources as adults, so they don’t eat same insects from earlier life cycle stages. Hence, no effect on insect’s life cycle. Also, adult insects with complete metamorphosis look very different from the larva (e.g. caterpillar is a larva which turns into a butterfly as an adult).
How Temperature Impacts Cricket’s Life Cycle?
Temperature is one of the vital elements for crickets to be able to go their full life cycle.
Crickets are insects, which traditionally have been considered as Poikilotherms. It means that crickets’ body temperature varies according to ambient temperature.
You can find crickets all around the world in all continents except Antarctic. If in the area during any season the temperature increases up to 81°F (27°C) there’s a good chance that you may find crickets in that environment.
Many areas around the world have seasons with vast temperature changes. Also, during a day and night temperature can fluctuate significantly. All of these factors impact crickets’ life cycle. Depending on the temperature variation, a cricket may simply hibernate or die if temperature is too low for too long. Also, it means that crickets’ life cycle can expand because of low temperature.
If temperature drops below 59°F (15°C) , then crickets start to go into hibernation state. In means that crickets automatically start to move much slower and don’t react actively to the environment. If temperature drops even more, crickets enter a complete dormancy.
Dormancy state is called diapause. It means that crickets’ bodies stopped development and their biological processes have been shut down in response to cold environment conditions. Diapause can help crickets to survive extreme cold without food and water. At this stage crickets look like dead and fully stopped the movement.
But what is extreme cold for crickets, you may ask?
Well, in my farm I harvest crickets by freezing them. I take them from farm 86°F (30°C) to cool environment 50°F (10°C) . Then crickets go into hibernate state and their diapause processes begin. Crickets slow down after 30 mins. Then I put them into freezer with -6°F (-21°C) and keep at least 6 hours to make sure that they won’t wake up after I take them out of freezer.
So, as you can see, crickets are dependent of the ambient temperature. Meaning, crickets’ lifecycle can expand to much longer period solely due to temperature fluctuations.
When crickets are raised in captivity (e.g. cricket farm), then micro climate can be set is always perfect, which allows to optimize cricket’s life cycle to 6 weeks or sometimes even faster.
Cricket Life Cycle Stage: Egg
Mature female cricket lays eggs into a humid soil by using her ovipositor. Female cricket lays 5-10 eggs at a time and is capable to lay around 100 eggs per life cycle.
Cricket eggs hatch in 11 days if environmental conditions are perfect.
From my experience with crickets breeding, I always noticed that eggs hatch optimally fast if I keep temperature 88°F (31°C) and keep humidity at 100%.
I don’t have a special eggs incubator which always maintains perfect temperature and humidity. What I do in my farm is I put soil containers with eggs into a bigger container. Then, I spray the soil with warm water. Also, I make sure that container’s walls are spayed and wet at all times. This is how it looks.
The problem I always faced that it’s hard to maintain enough humidity, because temperature in my cricket farm on average is 86°F (30°C). Hence, water evaporates fast.
I learned that it’s a good idea to simply wrap food plastic film on top of the container, so it keeps the humidity within the container. Also, it‘s a must to put some holes on top for the air to circulate properly.
TIP: every day take off the plastic wrap from the container and spray some fresh water again. Also, by taking off the plastic wrap every day for few minutes you will ensure sufficient oxygen and airflow. It‘s important, because otherwise cricket eggs may get rotten.
Cricket Life Cycle Stage: Nymph
After 11 days you will start to see your first baby crickets jumping around. Those are also called pinheads.
Cricket nymph takes ~35 days to become an adult cricket.
As mentioned previously, crickets go through incomplete metamorphosis within their life cycle. Hence, baby crickets look almost the same as adult crickets.
Here’s a video of 1 day old baby crickets (nymphs).
Cricket nymph life cycle: 1-2 weeks. Crickets looks smaller than ants. So, if you raise your own crickets at home, you must make sure that the container is perfectly sealed, because baby crickets can easily find cracks and escape.
Also, crickets start jumping from the first day they hatched. Every day they will be able to jump higher as higher. So, you also must prepare high enough container or add a lid with enough ventilation to prevent crickets from escaping your container.
NOTE: I made a post how to breed crickets and prepare a proper container them. You can check it out here.
Cricket nymph life cycle: 3-4 weeks. Crickets significantly increase in size. At this point they are bigger than ants. For comparison, they are as big as your little finger nail. During this stage you still cannot identify cricket males from females – all of them look the same.
Also, during this stage crickets actively start to shed their exoskeleton. Exoskeleton is a an external skeleton which supports and protects insect‘s body. More animals have it. For example cockroaches, crabs, lobsters.
Within cricket life cycle they will molt around 7 times. Their exoskeleton doesn’t increase is size, so crickets have no choice but to shed from it when they outgrow it.
Right after molting, crickets change their color to white. At this points they are very vulnerable to predators and even other crickets, because they become soft after molting. Meaning, they cannot protect themselves. It takes around 30 mins – 1 hour until new exoskeleton forms.
Fact: crickets eat their own shed exoskeleton. It contains chitin, which is actually also very nutritious to humans. Here‘s how crickets‘ exoskeletons looks like.
3-4 weeks old crickets are very active, but usually they don‘t jump around too much if they are not being scared by somebody or someone.
I have noticed that usually these teenager crickets try to stay as high as possible in the container, because it’s the warmest spot. At first, I thought it’s something wrong with my crickets, but apparently their instinct is just to climb as high as possible.
Here‘s how 3-4 weeks crickets looks like in a container.
Cricket nymph life cycle: 5th – 6th week. During 5th week crickets significantly increase in size and look like adult cricket is on average around 1 inch (2.5 cm) long. Female crickets are usually a little bigger. Also, during the 5th weeks you can start to differentiate female crickets from male crickets.
Female crickets start to form ovipositor which is sticking out from the end of abdomen. Usually its length is around 0.5 inch (~1.5 cm). Females use ovipositor to lay eggs.
Also, during 5th week crickets start to form their wings. Male crickets’ wings are bigger, and they use it for chirping. During this time crickets have shed their exoskeleton ~5-6 times.
Cricket Life Cycle Stage: Adult
After 35 days (6 weeks) crickets are becoming adults by reaching maturity. At this point crickets are around 1 inch (2.5 cm) or slightly larger.
Crickets mature after they molt 7 times. After that crickets will not grow larger. Also, they will not molt anymore because they reached the maturity. After the last molting, female crickets’ ovipositor and male crickets’ wings are fully formed. It means that crickets are ready to mate.
NOTE: molting times can differ depending on cricket’s size and how fast it’s growing.
When crickets mature, they become very active and start to jump around much more often. Also, after crickets mature, it means that they have gone through all life cycle stages.
With full maturity, male crickets are capable to create chirping sound. To create the sound male crickets rub their wings against each other. This is the sound which we hear in nature during warm summer nights.
Male crickets usually chirp for two reasons.
- Inviting female crickets to mate
- After mating with a female
- Informing another male cricket about upcoming fight (or to scare male crickets away)
Repeat Cricket Life Cycle: Crickets Mating
To reproduce new crickets generation, adult crickets instinctively mate right after their maturity.
By rubbing wings against each other, male crickets create resonant vibration which is an intense and loud sound. It helps female crickets to locate male crickets.
The louder male crickets chirp, the bigger chance that female cricket will select them. Female crickets tend to mate with bigger males in order to continue good genes for upcoming generation. There’s a speculation, that a female cricket can identify how big male cricket is, by listening to male chirping in the distance.
Fact: female crickets hear chirping sound through their legs (crickets’ ears are located there).
When female cricket selects her prince and comes close, then male cricket releases a small sperm packet. Female crickets crawls on top of male cricket and receives the sperm.
What is interesting with female crickets, is that female crickets can obtain the sperm from few different male crickets (source). Female cricket can receive the sperm from different partners and then decide which partner’s sperm she would like to use to be inseminated with.
After than, the whole cricket life cycle is repeated by female laying the eggs into the soil for the upcoming baby cricket generation to be hatched.