Well-Timed Crickets by Emily Davis & Anna Kennedy

A cave cricket   CC: e_monk

Have you ever known someone that really enjoys eating three-day-old junk food? Do you ever wonder why that person is the way that they are? How could you possibly enjoy eating junk food that has been rotting away for days on end? Well it just so happens that there is an insect that follows this behavior somewhat closely. This little guy has a much more complicated scientific name: Diestrammena asynamora and is more commonly referred to as Cave Crickets. Yes, it’s true. This group of crickets can be pretty picky eaters and it’s all for good and fair reasons that aren’t initially obvious. What sets them apart from the crickets you hear in your backyard during the summer? Cave Crickets don’t have the ability to make noise. Crickets that you tend to hear have ridges on their wings that they rub together to make that noise. However, Cave Crickets do not possess these ridges and thus rely mainly on their sense of touch through their front antennae and hind legs. Another attribute that further separates them from regular crickets is that they have a much longer life span. A typical life span of common crickets is roughly 2 months. Cave Cricket life spans last roughly 2 years!

For most of their lifetime, cave crickets will surprisingly reside in…caves. Due to their choice of location and habitat, they have a limited source of nutrient income. Considering that they are prey to a few animals that are active during the day time such as some birds, they will rightfully choose to limit their chances of getting eaten and do most of their activities at night. This behavior gives limited access to food, so when they do have the chance to safely venture out and search for food, they will feast on anything in sight. What is most available for them is typically anything that is decaying or being broken down by the earth. Cave Crickets have been demonstrating this feeding behavior long before any human you know who strictly eats organic and therefore can be considered the original trendsetters for organic eating habits. However, if you were to come across a cave cricket in the drier regions of the United States, you might be looking at a “sand-treader”. These organisms are closely related to cave crickets and are pretty much only separated by habitat choices and temperature tolerance. If you guessed that they reside in sand dunes, you’re right.

 

“Spricket”   another name for a Cave Cricket  CC: e_monk

 

Another nickname, that is dependent upon your location in the United States, Cave Crickets have graciously earned is the name “sprickets” for their close appearance to spiders. Their hind legs extend far from the center of their body making their appearance that of a spider’s at a quick glance. Cave Crickets appear to have two different colors on their bodies.  They exhibit mostly a light tan color with darker brown spots covering the rest of their body. Scientists have estimated that there are close to 700 million cave crickets close to residential areas in the Eastern parts of the United States alone. Interestingly enough, they are quite considerate roommates if they do reside in your basement or laundry area in your home. Due to their feeding behavior and craving for organic matter, they clean your areas more than you would like to think!

You can consider yourself lucky because you are able to find these crickets just about anywhere in the United States given that the temperature and habitat structure is how they prefer it to be. Also, you must be able to pull an all-nighter! The next time you find yourself in an area that is somewhat damp with a temperature that is neither too hot nor too cold; keep your eye out for mating cave crickets. Damp, dark places with mildly temperate conditions such as laundry rooms, basements, caves, and some shower areas are considered some of the best places for them to breed which is really interesting behavior. Due to their poor eyesight, cave crickets tend to jump frantically at anything that may pose a threat in order to scare them away. So don’t be frightened by their quick acrobatics; they are virtually harmless to you because these crickets are not known to bite humans.

Cave Crickets are misunderstood by many and they deserve to be awarded with some credit. Without these organisms in the United States, our residential and rural areas would be rife’ with organic material! Not to mention, they aren’t as noisy as common crickets so you don’t need ear plugs when you sleep. Completely harmless and inevitably interesting creatures, I encourage you to search for Cave Crickets near you!

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