Crickets are a pest that are strong in number. They cause damage to plants and crops, angering farmers reliant on the crop for their livelihood. They are a bug often found inside the home, driving crazy those trying to capture it with the loud chirp it is known for. Crickets have a wide variety of species, look different than one another and are found in an array of locations. They eat numerous things and are also prey to many, including people.
Crickets have two antennae, six jointed legs and a three-part body. Some species also have wings. A cricket's body is encased in an exoskeleton, which is hard. They breathe through holes located on the sides of their bodies and hear through an eardrum on their front legs. Crickets vary in color from brown to black and have the ability to jump nearly three feet in the air.
Crickets can be found under rocks or logs, in fields, grasslands, meadows, forests and occasionally in your house. Some species of cricket live near the sea, in bogs or marshes and even caves. There are crickets that are found underground or in trees. They typically are most active during the night. The males use their forewings, which they rub together to chirp loudly, to attract the females. Each species of cricket has a different sound to be distinguishable to the female. The females hear the chirping through the eardrum in their front legs.
Crickets were once revered in ancient China and Japan for their singing ability. They were kept in gold, bamboo or wooden cages for people to listen to at night. Cricket fighting was also popular and considered a gambling sport. Two crickets would be placed in a cage, starved to increase aggression, and would fight to the death. The Association for Cricket Fighting in Beijing sponsors national tournaments for viewers.
Crickets have a voracious appetite and eat both plants and animals. They eat dead insects, decaying plant material, fungi, seeds, young plants, as well as paper, cloth, silk, wool and leather. Because crickets eat seedlings, they are very destructive in large numbers, destroying large crops. Crickets are food for birds, rodents, beetles, wasps, reptiles and spiders.
Many humans eat crickets as well. In the 19th century, the Paiute Indian hunted crickets, burning them for later use in making flour for bread. Today, it is popular cuisine in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Insects can be high in nutrition, easier to farm and a good source of protein. Crickets can be roasted, stuffed and even made into brownies. They can be "topped and tailed" in order to keep the thighs and torso intact while the stuffing goes into the belly. This dish can then be fried in butter and steamed in champagne and is aptly named "stuffed crickets au champagne."
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