Grade: all
Subject: other

#2884. Crickets in the Classroom

, level: all
Posted Fri Jun 27 11:57:19 PDT 2003 by Elsa Salazar Cade (
Crickets in the Classroom
University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
Materials Required: live crickets
Activity Time: a couple of days/ two weeks
Concepts Taught: Insects, reproduction, behavior

crickets in the classroom

a sample two week lesson plan on how to use crickets in the classroom

A Sample Two Week Lesson Plan

Obviously, There are good times in the year to teach this unit. i.e. in Western New York, the early fall is best as
the crickets are very
active then. In Texas, mid fall or late spring are better times for finding them outside. Or anytime with store
bought crickets.

Monday :

Anticipatory set: Introduce the topic. Why Crickets?

Close relationship since ancient times

Ancient Chinese love to keep crickets for their song and for fighting. They make special fancy houses to keep
them in. (A neat
homework assignment is for them to build cricket houses at home and then take a cricket home on the weekend)

Spanish people kept crickets in clay jars to enjoy the singing in their house.

Types of crickets and their habitats

Field crickets live and sing in the fields

Tree crickets live and sing in trees

Mole crickets tunnel under the ground and damage lawns

House crickets like to live in houses now most common as pet food for lizards and pet tarantulas. Camel or
Cave crickets like to live in

Crickets as an ideal animal to observe typical animal behaviors.

Define words:

Insect entomology entomologist pest control extermination behavior



Fill in blanks of cricket body parts sheet

Review the process of observing and proper notation of data. We describe what we see. Discuss
anthropomorphic: how we do not
describe behavior in terms of human feelings.

Go over and set up equipment for observing crickets:

graph paper for measuring baby crickets

petrie dishes, Test tubes, metric rulers hand lens, clock/stopwatch. note paper/pencil food water container ( clear
food containers work

Measuring the length of crickets

Give out crickets to students. Mixed culture or single culture

Measure length of the cricket ( For a high school exercise, more sophisticated measurement is to measure the
heads with calipers and
compare the male to female head sizes)

Fill out measuring crickets data sheet.

Graph class data


Give out Life cycle sheet and discuss life cycle.

How to distinguish adults from immature?

How to distinguish males from females?


territoriality habitat dominant satellite

Discuss how males defend a burrow from other males.

Put males together for awhile and they will chase each other for a bit. Have students record the aggressive
behaviors. Please remove the
males and keep separate after only a short time as they will fight to the death sometimes. They will damage each
other and tear off legs.


Define: stimulus response

Release crickets for five minutes in to observation chamber

Review the names of the parts

Identify the stages and sexes

Then observe The crickets for twenty minutes.

Students can stroke the back legs gently with a stiff piece of fishing line fishing line cut about 10 cm taped to
end of a pencil. They can
also stroke antennae.

Fill in cricket observation data sheet

Did it move? How?

Record and describe how the legs move.

Has it eaten?

How does it eat?

Look for the mandibles!


video/ Laser disk

There are so many great videos on insects and their behavior, I couldn't just pick one!


Taxonomy of the cricket and some on its cousin species


crickets grasshoppers/locusts (migratory grasshoppers) cockroaches preying mantis

agricultural importance of the Orthoptera

grasshoppers damage crops especially in Africa as migratory locust swarms destroy acres in a few minutes.

(check locally with the extension agricultural folks)

weekend extension

Give out some crickets to students to take home to do some longer observations

Look at them while singing.

How do they sing?

How long do they sing?

When do they sing?

Give some students a male and a female

Instruct on the form being used

They can also use the checklist of behaviors


Make short oral reports to groups about the behaviors observed over the weekend

How did immature act?

Males with females?

Males at night? singing?

Hand out materials for testing crickets in a box a black and white bottom check every 5 minutes and record the
location in the box.

Test under a light with a dark shelter on one side check every five minutes and record on data sheet Do a
write-up for home work in lab
report form.


If possible, go outside and look for crickets

Record and describe the environment and possible predators

Where did you look and why? previous experience?

Make a list of the biotic and abiotic factors in the school yard environment

Where else are they found? in your basement?


Discuss :

Have students draw food chains and then a web

demonstrating where a cricket occurs in the food chain.

Crickets as consumers of grass.

Mole crickets destroy lawns in Florida.

Their cousins grasshoppers and locusts destroy millions of dollars in crops in Africa.

Crickets as people food?

A challenge among some University graduate cricket students is to eat their animal in a specially prepared dish
shared with others.

Crispy Cajun Crickets


The cricket as prey to a parasitic fly. How can this fly be used to control cricket pests? Now being tested as a
biological control of the mole cricket.


Discuss cricket scientists

How do their findings relate to own observations

Compare time required to watch with time spent in classroom.

Sample size?

Crickets have been studied around the world, scientist get together and shared knowledge about crickets with
each other. Science is build on top of previous information
Also, there is a group of scientists that work together on crickets:

Dan Otte, The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Studied crickets in Hawaii, New Caledonia, Africa, Australia

Richard Alexander, University Of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Studied crickets in New Caledonia, Africa, Australia

William and Elsa Cade, Brock University, St. Catherines

Studied crickets in Texas, Africa, New Caledonia, Austrialia

Anne Marie Murray, University of Arkansas, Little Rock, Arkanas Studied crickets in Texas

Difficulty of work at night collecting is dangerous in Africa, but very exciting.

Quiet work in the lab identifying the crickets

Discuss: the cricket, the fly and the satellite male story


Cricket behavior play

Have students write a short play about the cricket/fly relationship


male cricket (student with a tape recorder)

female cricket,

satellite male cricket,

a female fly (student with sun glasses)

Black plastic garbage bags with holes cut out for the head and arms work well. A tape recorder playing a tape of
a calling cricket that the students have recorded can be
hidden under the plastic bag.

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