1902 Encyclopedia > Cricket (insect)


CRICKET (Achetidae), a family of saltatory Orthopterous Insects, characterized by the great length and slenderness of the antennae, and by the horizontal position of the wings and wing-covers when at rest. The wings when folded form long slender filaments, which often reach beyond the extremity of the body, and give the appearance of a bifid tail, while in the male they are provided with a stridulating apparatus by which the well-known chirping sound, to which the insect owes its name, is produced. The abdomen of the female ends in a long slender ovipositor, which, however, is not exserted in the Mole Cricket. The House Cricket (Acheta domestica) is of a greyish-yellow colour marked with brown. It frequents houses, especially in rural districts, where its lively, if somewhat monotonous, chirp may be heard nightly in the neighbourhood of the fireplace. It is particularly fond of warmth, and is thus frequently found in bakeries, where its burrows are often Funk to within a few inches of the oven. In the hot sum-mer it goes out of doors, and frequents the walls of gardens, but returns again to its place by the hearth on the first approach of cold, where, should the heat of the fire be withdrawn, it becomes dormant. It is nocturnal, coming forth at the evening, twilight in search of food, which con-sists of bread crumbs and other refuse of the kitchen. The Field Cricket (Acheta campestris) is a larger insect than the former, and of a darker colour. It burrows in the ground to a depth of from 6 to 12 inches, and in the evening the male may be observed sitting at the mouth of its hole noisily stridulating until a female approaches, "when," says Bates, "the louder notes are succeeded by a more subdued tone, whilst the successful musician caresses with his antennae the mate he has won." The musical apparatus in this species consists of upwards of 130 transverse ridges on the under side of one of the nervures of the wing cover, which are rapidly scraped over a smooth, projecting nervure on the opposite wing. The female deposits her eggs—about 200 in number—on the ground, and when hatched the larvae, which resemble the perfect insect except in the absence of wings, form burrows for themselves in which they pass the winter. The Mole Cricket (Gryllotalpa yulgaris) owes its name to the striking analogy in its habits and structure to those of the common mole. Its body is thick and cylindrical in shape, and it burrows by means of its front legs, which are short and greatly flattened out and thickened, with the outer edge partly notched so as some-what to resemble a hand. It prefers loose and sandy ground in which to dig, its burrow consisting of a vertical shaft from which long horizontal galleries are given off; and in making those excavations it does immense injury to gardens and vineyards by destroying the tender roots of plants, which form its principal food. It also feeds upon other insects, and even upon the weak of its own species in the absence of other food. It is exceedingly fierce and voracious, and is usually caught by inserting a stem of grass into its hole, which being seized, is retained till the insect is brought to the surface. The female deposits her eggs in a neatly constructed subterranean chamber, about the size of a hen's egg, and sufficiently near the surface to allow of the eggs being hatched by the heat of the sun.

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