Striped Ground Cricket – Allonemobius fasciatus

Striped Ground Cricket – Allonemobius fasciatus
Family Gryllidae – True Crickets. Also commonly called banded ground cricket.
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Live adult  crickets photographed at Ogle County, Illinois.

True crickets (family Gryllidae) are harmless, nocturnal insects famous for their chirping, technically known as stridulation. The sound has become a literal indication of "nothing happening," in popular culture. Everyone is familiar with the sudden silence except for (sound of crickets chirping…)

Only male crickets chirp, usually to attract females or repel other males. In a nutshell: the sound is produced when the cricket rubs the serrated edges of his wings together. A more specific description: "On the margin of the wingcover, a thickened point is observed from which several strong veins diverge, forming angles. The largest and strongest of these veins, which runs towards the base of the left wing cover, is regularly notched like a file. The wing covers being closed, this oblique bar lies upon the corresponding part of the right wing cover, and when a tremulous motion is given the wing covers the bar on the left rubs against the bar on the right, producing the familiar sound." [2]

 Like many processes in cold-blooded animals, the rate of chirping is dependant on the ambient air temperature, and it is possible to calculate approximate air temperature in degrees Fahrenheit by counting the chirps per 14 seconds and adding 40.

Spider chases cricket
An very young orbweaver spider (L. cornutus) chased this cricket away by continually attacking its antennae.
Striped Ground Cricket
There are more than 20,000 species in the order Orthoptera. These diverse insects are found worldwide, although their numbers are concentrated in the tropics. They vary in size from less than 5mm to monster-big grasshoppers over 4 inches long, with 10-inch wingspans. Orthopterans are some of the most common insects in many landscapes, and the order includes some of the most destructive agricultural pests in the locusts and katydids. Most eat plants, but some species are omnivorous.

Females typically lay clutches of eggs either in the ground or on vegetation. Grasshoppers, crickets and katydids are all well-known for their jumping ability as well as the singing performed by the males (females are generally silent.)  Grasshoppers are almost all active in the daytime, but crickets are nocturnal. Katydids are thought to be nocturnal, but I see an awful lot of them out and about when the sun is shining. There are few places on earth where the calls of these intriguing insects are not heard nearly constantly during the warm months.

The first fossil records of the order appear in the upper Carboniferous, or Pennsylvanian era, 310 – 290 million years ago. [1]


  1., "Allonemobius fasciatus"
  2. George Johnson & Robert Hogg, Journal of Horticulture, Cottage Gardener
Order Orthoptera – Crickets, Grasshoppers & Katydids
There are more than 20,000 species in the order Orthoptera. These diverse insects are found worldwide, although their numbers are concentrated in the tropics.
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