How Do Crickets Mate?
The mating behavior of crickets is fascinating. Unlike most of the animal kingdom, in the cricket world, the female is the one who does the mounting! But before we get into the racy details, let’s talk about the male’s mating call. We all know that crickets chirp (at least most crickets do) and the chirp is an essential part of cricket courtship. For the basis of this article, we’ll be using the field cricket (a.k.a) “true cricket” or common chirping cricket, as the primary example.
Contrary to popular belief, every cricket chirp you hear is not a mating call (1). Actually, crickets have a unique chirp that sounds off during or after a fight with another insect. They have a calling song for attracting females and a unique chirp for when they have singled out a female that they want to mate with. Each of these sounds is produced by the male as he rubs his wings together. Even though male crickets have a variety of songs for different scenarios, the most common one you will hear on a summer night is the calling song (for attracting females).
Female crickets can hear the males chirp through their front legs (that’s where their ears are located) and they respond to the sound that is most appealing to them. If a female is attracted to a particular cricket’s song, she will turn to face the direction of the sound. This works out well if the male is nearby enough to see her response.
At this point, the male releases a small white sperm packet, the female climbs on top of him and receives the sperm packet. She climbs off of him and the sperm continues to pump into her for about 30 minutes. Now, here’s where it gets interesting. The female can continue to mate with other male crickets and all of their sperm will stay inside her. According to recent studies (2), she can actually choose which male’s sperm she will use to fertilize her eggs with! This is a natural way of preventing inbreeding and choosing the best qualified father of her offspring.
Even more interesting, is recent research that shows male crickets displaying chivalry and sacrificing their lives to save their mates (3). Apparently, “ladies first” is a cricket motto. When danger approaches, male crickets will wait for their mate to enter the burrow first. Reportedly, mated males are eaten more often than virgin males (3).
There are also other aspects of cricket behavior besides mating, which are also affected by the chirps.
Filed under: Cricket Behavior