Updated on July 19, 2022
While we sometimes want/need to get rid of them, crickets play an important role in maintaining balance in our ecosystem and have additional benefits. Throughout history, they’ve been kept as pets, seen as a symbol of good fortune, and even used as a major food source.
That’s right, per ounce, crickets have twice as much protein as chicken and 50% more than beef, and fried crickets taste just like potato chips (and can even be flavored like chips). But we’re not here to talk about healthy snacks.
Instead, let’s take a look at some different species of cricket. There are over 15,000 species out there, roughly 900 of which are classified as “true crickets” (Gryllidae family) and around 1,200 species in the US alone.
Some of these look quite unique and some are “mute” (meaning they don’t produce the classic chirrup sounds). We hope the following sampling will whet your appetite to discover more about these diverse insects.
Types of Crickets
#1 – African Cricket, AKA Parktown Prawn (Libanasidus vittatus)
Native to South Africa and nearby areas, this species of king cricket is nearly 2.4 inches long and have peculiar tusks on their mandibles. While considered a pest in homes, they’re quite welcome in gardens where they feast upon moth larvae, slugs, and snails.
They also attract a number of insectivore predators. However, they will also munch on pet food, pet droppings, fallen fruit, carrion, and even wood (although they can’t actually digest the wood).
#2 – Australian Field Cricket (Teleogryllus oceanicus)
Found throughout the continent of Australia, this species is sometimes also known as the Pacific or oceanic field cricket. It’s a mix of black and dark brown with stripes on the back of its head. At 1.2 to 1.3 inches long, the species tends to group together in large numbers and will dig burrows if it can’t find a crack or hole to hide in.
Oddly enough, this species was introduced to Hawai’i where the parasitic fly Ormia ochracea began homing in on their chirps. As a result, the species quickly learned to stop chirping when the flies are active and are actually mutating so they can no longer produce sound, which may soon result in the Hawai’ian specimens being reclassified as a new species.
#3 – Black Field Cricket (Teleogryllus commodus)
This species is so closely related to the Australian field cricket that the latter was once thought to be part of the former. However, this species tends to top out at around 1.2 inches long and has a slightly more restricted range of the Australian mainland and New Zealand.
This species makes for a great pet because they can actually be taught using odors or rewards.
#4 – Bush Crickets, AKA Katydids (Tettigoniidae family)
Consisting of over 8,000 species, these curious critters look more like grasshoppers than crickets but have extremely long antennae that are sometimes bigger than their bodies.
They also come in a variety of shapes and sizes, often taking on the appearance of leaves for camouflage. Unlike true crickets, they lack hind wings, which prevent them from flying. Instead, they use their long forewings to help break falls from great heights.
These crickets got their name from the wing chirps made by a particular species, Pterophylla camellifolia, better known as the true katydid.
#5 – Camel Cricket (Rhaphidophoridae family)
Sometimes referred to as cave crickets or spider crickets, these crickets are different in appearance from true crickets and contain more than 1,100 species. They have brown bodies with a hunched abdomen, long, spider-like legs, and no wings.
They prefer dark, damp locations such as caves or rotting tree hollows but are also known to infest basements. They love munching on plant matter, which includes fabric and cardboard, as well as leaving a foul odor behind in places they infest. As a result, they’re not very good pets.
Related: How to Get Rid of Spider Crickets
#6 – Dune Crickets, AKA Splay-Footed Crickets (Schizodactylidae family)
One look at these peculiar crickets and their surroundings is all you need to know where they get their common names. They’re most commonly found in the deserts of Africa and Asia and have legs that splay out for better traction.
Dune crickets also have antennae that can stretch twice as long as their bodies.
#7 – House Cricket (Acheta domesticus)
These grey to brown crickets are only around 3/4 inches long and have very strong hind legs. They’re a cosmopolitan species which originated in southeastern Asia and owes its increased range to the unfortunate fact that insect aficionados claim the species has a superior texture and taste.
They’re also one of the most common species to be kept as pets despite also being one of the louder ones.
#8 – Jerusalem Cricket (Stenopelmatini tribe)
Sometimes referred to as potato bugs (not to be mistaken with other bugs that share the nickname), these bizarre crickets aren’t from Jerusalem at all, but actually hail from North America. In fact, just about everything involving these insects is a lie – they’re not true crickets, more closely resemble ants, and have no interest in potatoes.
The tribe consists of 39 confirmed species and 13 debated species across two genera. They’re burrowers and give off an exceptionally foul odor. If the smell isn’t enough, they can hiss at predators.
Instead of chirping (they don’t have wings), they beat their abdomens on the ground. Finally, they have really strong mandibles that can deliver a painful bite if you can brave the stench enough to touch one.
#9 – King Cricket (Anostostomatidae family)
Found throughout various environments in the southern hemisphere, these large crickets come in a variety of large sizes and colors. Some species can fly while others are flightless.
King crickets eat a wide range of foods from fungi to insects, and the Australian king cricket is powerful enough to feast on funnel-web spiders.
#10 – Leaf-Rolling Crickets, AKA Raspy Crickets (Gryllacrididae family)
Generally wingless, these curious crickets won’t jump and are instead notoriously shy during the day. Most species roll up leaves, sewing them shut with a type of silk very similar to that of silkworms. They then hide inside these little bedrolls until it’s dark.
Depending on the species, these crickets may also burrow into the ground, sand, or even wood to hide.
#11 – Mole Cricket (Gryllotalpidae family)
Perhaps the creepiest looking crickets, mole crickets have streamlined, cylindrical bodies covered in fine, dense hairs. Their hind legs are similar to true crickets, but the forelegs look more like the legs of a mammal, being flat with spiky “toes” for digging.
Their beady little eyes are barely visible and they have underdeveloped, functionless wings.
In their native habitats, mole crickets are often celebrated, but they’re a frustrating pest in areas they’ve been introduced. They’re especially annoying to farmers, as their burrowing can dislodge seeds, damage seedlings, and cause the topsoil to dry out.
#12 – Mormon Cricket (Anabrus simplex)
This particular species of shieldbacked katydid doesn’t particularly care about religion, although they hold a religious significance for the Mormons who settled in Utah.
They can be found throughout the western portions of North America and are notorious for forming massive swarms during droughts. These swarms obliterate crops and leave behind crushed bodies and nasty stains.
Mormon crickets are well known for attacking crops in the Salt Lake valley whenever there’s a drought, and local gulls regularly feast upon them. According to Mormon legends, the crickets swarmed their second crop of food in 1848 and God sent legions of gulls to devour the crickets and save the crops. Later, it was proven that the crops were heavily damaged by more than just the crickets, and the gulls had little effect.
Additionally, this same scenario has played out multiple times since 1848 without posing any religious significance. Despite these facts, the “Miracle of the Gulls” remains a significant event in Mormon teachings.
#13 – Roesel’s Bush Cricket (Roeseliana roeselii)
This species of bush cricket looks very similar to a grasshopper with a shorter abdomen. Their wings are incapable of flight and they tend to be identifiable by the yellow-green spots along their abdomen.
Native to Europe and Russia as far east as the Yenisei River, these inch-long katydids have spread to North America. It’s said that their distinctively long, high-pitched buzzing is designed to mimic electrical wires or Savi’s warbler to mask their presence from predators.
Read Also: 13 Fascinating Grasshopper Facts
#14 – Tree Crickets (Oecanthinae subfamily)
This large group of crickets is quite unusual, with long, thin bodies that taper to a point. They’re skilled fliers and have a cosmopolitan range.
As tree crickets prefer to dwell in trees and shrubs, their body shapes allow them to resemble twigs and furled leaves, complete with coloration matching where each species prefers to live.
#15 – English Cricket (Gamus popularus)
This strange type of cricket is found throughout the civilized world but is native to England. Commonly called cricketers, one human throws a ball at a wicket, which must be defended by another human with a bat.