Crickets belong to the order Orthoptera, and they are closely related to grasshoppers. These insects are present in almost every place in the world, except Antarctica. There are many different types of crickets that have distinct eating habits. Like humans, most crickets are omnivorous- they eat both meat and plants.
Crickets aren’t picky eaters, and they’ll eat almost everything. In homes, these pests eat leftover food, clothing, drapes, and furniture. They have teeth and jaws and can chew cardboard, stored grains, cereals, and plastic bags. These insects can eat all the plants in the garden if left unchecked. The pests can also eat seeds and stems of plants such as barley, wheat, fruit, vegetable, and corn. They can destroy multiple rows of seedlings in just one day.
Common Foods That Crickets Eat
These are the most common things crickets eat:
Crickets eat a wide range of fruits. They particularly prefer fruits such as oranges, bananas, and apples. The insects also enjoy fruit plant seeds. These pests can eat all the seeds that you’ve planted in the garden. Some species of crickets such as field crickets can cause extensive damage to a variety of different plants. However, they also keep weeds like ragweed and crabgrass in check.
Unlike grasshoppers that are herbivores, crickets can’t live without protein in their diet. That’s the reason they eat other insects to fulfill their nutritional requirements. Some crickets may even eat other crickets to meet their dietary requirements. Crickets will die if they don’t eat meat. Mostly crickets fulfill their need for protein by eating other insects. They eat a variety of insects including ants, aphids, stick insects, and ladybugs.
Crickets also eat a lean hamburger and beef roast. The food items are rich in Iron that is an essential nutrient for crickets. Also, they fulfill their meat requirements by eating chicken scraps from the breasts or drumsticks.
Raw vegetables are also a staple diet of crickets. They can feed on peels and tops of carrots. Lettuce and cabbage are also preferred by crickets. Moreover, crickets love to eat potatoes. The vegetables are rich in several nutrients that are essential for the growth of crickets. They can munch on fresh vegetables or leftovers that are thrown in the garbage can.
Cat food is one of the favorite foods of crickets. People who keep crickets as pets break the cat food into small pieces using a hammer and feed them to the insects.
Dead and Decaying Matter
While crickets prefer fresh meals, they can also feed on the dead and decaying matter if fresh food is not available. They can eat a range of decaying matter found in the garbage can. The insects also munch on decaying plant matter including leaves and fungi. Moreover, these pests can eat dead insects.
Some crickets such as camel crickets eat wood. Chopped wood is not just a favorite hiding spot for crickets but also serves as a delicious much on for the insects. Furthermore, crickets also eat the delicious fungi that grow on the wood.
Crickets munch on a variety of dry food items. They eat dry food items available outside including seeds, what bran, seeds, and alfalfa. Cricket chow is a dry food that is commercially prepared to feed crickets. The food item meets most of the food requirements of crickets.
What Do Different Species of Crickets Eat?
More than 900 species of crickets exist in the world. In the US, there are about 100 cricket species. All of them have a varied diet. Let’s take a look at what the different species of crickets eat.
Camel crickets are a wingless species of crickets. They can grow to more than an inch. But most of them are less than an inch in size. The insects have an appearance similar to a grasshopper.
However, they have mouth-parts similar to crickets due to which they are categorized in the group. Also, known as cave crickets, these are normally found in damp and cool areas.
The diet of camel crickets is varied. These insects can eat just about everything. They mostly eat fungi growing in damp places. Inside the house, the camel crickets can feed on the carpet, curtains, furniture fabric, and clothes. Crickets also exhibit cannibalism, and they’re capable of devouring fellow crickets.
The crickets that you hear chirping outside during the summer are most likely field crickets. These are found in many different areas including forests, laws, and even caves. They are also found in tall grass.
While they spent most of their time outside the house, they can come inside the house during rainy and cold seasons. These crickets are about an inch in length. Their color ranges from dark brown to black.
Field crickets have a varied diet. They mostly eat plants, decaying matter, and fungi. The crickets can also eat vegetables and fruits if available. In case, the food is scarce, a field cricket will eat insects, dead or alive. This type of cricket is beneficial for the environment. They eat pupae and eggs of different pests thereby preventing the destruction of crops.
House crickets are yellowish-brown in colors. These insects have similar eating habits to field crickets. Fishermen generally use these crickets as bait for fishing. They are also used to feed household pets such as mice, lizards, and iguana.
The crickets are mostly found around the river or on shorelines. Most of the life around the rivers as they are let go by fishermen at the end of fishing when they are no longer needed.
As compared to camel crickets, house crickets cause little destruction inside a house. They mostly eat paper goods, food, and clothing.
Weta crickets are one of the few species that are mostly canorous. These insects are mostly found in Africa and New Zealand. The diet mostly consists of earthworms, beetles, and other insects. They are one of the oldest species of crickets that have existed since the dinosaurs’ age.
White-kneed crickets are mainly found in areas that receive heavy rainfall. Their name comes from the white bands on the knees. The crickets are nocturnal and spend day time buried deep in the soil.
The crickets are omnivorous and eat a variety of plants and insects. These insects feed on leaves, nuts, and fruits. Moreover, they can also scavenge decaying matter including dead insects and rotting plants.
Giant-crickets are found in Malta, Sicily, Sardinia, and some areas of North Africa. These crickets have a big head, armored legs, and strong jaws. The armored legs allow the insects to burrow in the soil where it spends most of its time.
The crickets have specialized in eating a range of food items. They are opportunistic omnivores that prey on plants and inspects. The crickets thrive on the underground part of the plant including roots and tubers.
What Does Gut Loading Mean?
Crickets that are gut loaded are kept for feeding pets. Gut loading means feeding food items that will meet the nutritional requirements of the pet that will be fed on these insects.
Crickets already contain a lot of nutrients. But pet owners feed a variety of food items that will improve the nutritional quality of the insects. Some of the food items that may be fed to the crickets include rice cereal, squash, potatoes, tropical fish flakes, and leafy green vegetables.
Pet owners can also feed digestive biscuits, bread, cornflakes, in addition to plants and vegetables. A cost-effective solution for gut loading is poultry mash. Fish pellets are a costly yet satisfying feed for the cricket. Moreover, pet owners feed special brands of cricket food available on the market. Some even feed rabbit food and fresh fruits and vegetables with rolled oats to the crickets. Gut loading the crickets with the nutritional food items means high nutrient food for the pets.
How Do Crickets Eat Food?
Crickets eat their food using palps. You can consider these palps as similar to the hands of humans. Palps are sensory body parts near the mount. Crickets use the palps to get the food in their mouth. They then chew and swallow the food.
Most species of crickets are carnivores that eat both plants and insects. The majority of crickets prefer plants. However, there are some cricket species like those belonging to the Tettigoniidae family such as bush crickets that eat mostly or only insects. Crickets that belong to the family Gryllotalpidae also prefer meat, but they eat plants if no insect is found.
Crickets generally eat fresh meals. If hungry, they can also eat dead and decaying matter. They can also eat fellow crickets, but usually, they eat other insects. The insects are also known as scavengers due to their peculiar feeding behavior.