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Nature Notebook – When Crickets Attack

When Crickets Attack! Sounds like a good title for a fictional horror movie, but it would have to be classified as a documentary. Crickets are just as happy munching on a meaty snack as on a seed or plant.

Many cricket species and nymphal stages (juveniles) don’t pose a problem; their jaws are too small. However, the mandibles of field crickets, common fall crickets and others are quite capable of gnashing small, soft organisms such as invertebrate eggs, aphids and scale insects.

Crickets will also feed on other insects in a vulnerable life stage such as the pupa or during molting (when the exoskeleton is soft). Sometimes the meal is a fortuitous find, but crickets have also been observed actively “hunting.” They can detect, dig out and then eat the pupae of apple maggots. If regular food is scarce, a cricket’s own family or neighbors may become the next meal.

Many owners of herp pets (frogs, geckos, turtles) have learned the hard way about a cricket’s propensity to chomp on soft animal parts…if they aren’t chomped first.