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Crickets, Pacific Northwest

Camel Cricket, Photo By Bud Logan

Crickets are related to grasshoppers and katydids. You can identify them from their long antennae and their powerful back legs, which they use for jumping or hopping. Adult females have a conspicuous ovipositor extending backward from the tip of the abdomen. Male crickets chirp by rubbing their wings together. They are usually active at night.

They are medium-sized to large insects. Like their relatives the grasshoppers and katydids. They have rounded heads, antennae that are long and thin, and their wings bend down on the sides of their body. They often look flat, or at least the top of their body is flattened. Most are brown, but some are black and conehead crickets are green.  Both males and females have ears, but they are on their legs! They are smooth round structures on their lower legs. Females have a thin round tube on the end of their abdomen that they use to lay their eggs. This structure is called an ovipositor.

They are found all around the world. There are over 120 species in North America, the Pacific Northwest has many types of crickets, l have photographed 4 but am always on the lookout for others.

Camel Cricket, Crickets, Insects, Animals, BC Coastal Region, Insects Of BC
Camel Cricket, Photo By Bud Logan
Although you might not recognize them as a type of cricket because camel crickets are tan with a humped back and have a body length of up to 4 cm long and unlike house and field crickets, they are wingless, so do not chirp.

They do have long antennae and unusually long powerful back legs giving them an unusual appearance. Camel Crickets are powerful jumpers when disturbed easily frightening anyone who stumbles upon them by accident. In spite of this, they are quite harmless. Camel crickets are found under logs or stones or in stacks of firewood.

Camel crickets live thru the Winter as juveniles or adults and begin to lay eggs in the spring. Nymphs hatch from the eggs a few weeks later. The nymphs look identical to the adults, only smaller

Cave Cricket
Cave Cricket, Photo By Robert Logan
The cave cricket gets its name from the fact that it is often found in caves. Some people say it is related to the camel cricket because of its humpbacked appearance. There are several species of cave crickets in North America. Most of them belong to the genus ceuthophilus.

Cave crickets are usually large insects. Depending on the species, they can grow to 4.5 cm in length. Their antennae are slender and longer than the body. These crickets do not have wings, so they cannot fly and they cannot make the chirping sounds that many other crickets make.

Cave crickets seek out damp locations. Around homes, they can be found in drainpipes and water meter boxes. They often hide under mulch and under piles of leaves. They also hide under sheds if there is a space they can squeeze into.

Field Cricket
Field Cricket, Photo By Bud Logan
On summer evenings you will often hear the sounds of crickets chirping away. It is a pleasant sound. The field crickets are shiny black in color and grow up to 3.5 cm long with short rounded wings.

Field crickets are strongly attracted to light. Field crickets are the most likely to accidentally enter homes in late summer and early fall looking for a warm haven from colder evenings. Usually, male field crickets will be noticed due to their loud chirping.

Field crickets can be found outdoors in overgrown grassy areas, flower beds, and lawns. Field crickets overwinter as eggs laid in the soil. The eggs hatch in the late spring or early summer and the nymphs develop slowly reaching adulthood in late summer and early fall.

Field Cricket
Field Cricket, Photo By Bud Logan
The nymphs look like a smaller version of adults with no wings. The adults mate and lay eggs in late summer and fall before dying of old age or freezing temperatures. The life cycle of the field cricket is about ninety days.

Adult male crickets chirp by rubbing their wings together to attract females and only the male’s sing. There are songs for courtship, fighting and sounding an alarm. The principal role is to bring the sexes together with different songs in different species. Male crickets sing by rubbing the edge at the base of one front wing along a ridge on the bottom side of the other front wing, resulting in the sound of chirping.

The number of chirps varies with the temperature with more and faster chirping at higher temperatures. Chirps vary from 4 to 5 to more than 200 per minute. The song is amplified by the wing surface.

Long Wing Conehead Cricket
Long Winged Conehead Cricket, Photo By Robert Logan
The Long Wing Conehead Cricket is a bush cricket of rough grassland and woodland areas, as well as damp habitats. It is largely vegetarian, feeding on grasses, but will also eat small invertebrates. Nymphs emerge from mid-May onward, molting into their adult forms at the end of July.

The song of the long-winged conehead is a soft, hissing buzz that is barely audible to human ears. Females lay their eggs in late summer in grass stems; here, they overwinter, ready to emerge next spring.

The long-winged conehead is easily identified by the combination of its green coloration, brown stripe down the back, pointed head and long, brown wings.

These crickets are not very common on Vancouver Island and this is the first one that I have seen here, it was on a flowering bush in my backyard in Campbell River.

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