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I Dream Africa

I Dream Africa

Crickets & Grasshoppers



Crickets, family Gryllidae (also known as "true crickets"), are insects somewhat related to grasshoppers, and more closely related to katydids or bush crickets (family Tettigoniidae). They have somewhat flattened bodies and long antennae. There are about 900 species of crickets. They tend to be nocturnal and are often confused with grasshoppers because they have a similar body structure including jumping hind legs. Crickets are harmless to humans.

Only the male crickets chirp. A large vein running along the bottom of each wing has "teeth," much like a comb does. The chirping sound is created by running the top of one wing along the teeth at the bottom of the other wing. As he does this, the cricket also holds the wings up and open, so that the wing membranes can act as acoustical sails. It is a popular myth that the cricket chirps by rubbing its legs together.

There are four types of cricket song: The calling song attracts females and repels other males, and is fairly loud. The courting song is used when a female cricket is near, and is a very quiet song. An aggressive song is triggered by chemoreceptors on the antennae that detect the near presence of another male cricket and a copulatory song is produced for a brief period after a successful mating.

Crickets, like all other insects, are cold-blooded. They take on the temperature of their surroundings. Many characteristics of cold-blooded animals, like the rate at which crickets chirp, or the speed at which ants walk, follow an equation called the Arrhenius equation. This equation describes the activation energy or threshold energy required to induce a chemical reaction. Crickets have tympanic membranes located just below the middle joint of each front leg (or knee). This enables them to hear another cricket's song.


The grasshopper is an insect of the suborder Caelifera in the order Orthoptera. To distinguish it from bush crickets or katydids, it is sometimes referred to as the short-horned grasshopper. Species that change colour and behaviour at high population densities are called locusts.

Grasshoppers have antennae that are almost always shorter than their body, and short ovipositors. They also have pinchers or mandibles that cut and tear off food. Those species that make easily heard noises usually do so by rubbing the hind femurs against the forewings or abdomen, or by snapping the wings in flight. Females are normally larger than males, with short ovipositors. Males have a single unpaired plate at the end of the abdomen. Females have two pairs of valves (triangles) at the end of the abdomen used to dig in sand when egg laying.

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