The Crickets in the Classroom Page

This page is about using common field and house crickets to teach skills of observation and measurement. The unit also includes basic information on cricket biology and introduces students to the scientific literature

We are Elsa Salazar Cade and Bill Cade. Elsa was a junior high school science teacher in Buffalo NY and an adjunct faculty member at SUNY Buffalo. Bill was a Professor of Biology specializing in animal behavior at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. We have recently moved to Lethbridge, Alberta, Bill got a job as President of the University of Lethbridge, but the cricket work continues. Together, we have studied crickets and used them in our classrooms for more than 20 years!

The cricket: Gryllus texensis

We believe that field and house crickets are ideal subjects for teaching observation, measurement, hypothesis formation and testing and a variety of skills important in science. Crickets can be easily collected in the field or they can be purchased from various vendors. Crickets perform some really interesting behavior and use sound to manipulate the behavior of others. Cricket behavior is easy to observe and the whole exercise is inexpensive.

This material includes some basic information about crickets, some activities for students, worksheets a two week lesson plan and some ideas on how to integrate this material with other subjects. is presented for use in the intermediate classroom, but it can be modified for use in primary as well as senior and university classrooms measurement, . This exercise developed out of our own use of crickets in our classrooms in both junior high and at the university level. We have presented "Crickets in the Classroom" in Toronto at the joint meeting of the National Science Teachers Association and the Science Teachers Association of Ontario a few years ago. We also presented this to middle school teachers in Buffalo, N.Y. and to teachers from the Niagara penninsula at Brock University. We also spoke to a special workshop for NSTA, when a group of teachers came out to our research site in Austin,Texas and caught us in the act of conducting our research one summer.


Humans have always been fascinated by crickets, mostly because crickets sing. Movie producers add their songs to sound tracks. The Chinese have used them for medicinal purposes, have special cages which enhance the songs, and fight the males the same way people in other cultures fight dogs or cocks. Some people, including us, think crickets bring good luck and, of course, Dickens tells us of the Cricket on the Hearth . Cricket images even appear on ancient cave drawings.

Cricket mating behaviour is especially fascinating. Males rub their wings together and produce a calling song that is species specific. Females are attracted to the song, and the song repels other calling males in a type of territoriality. In many species, males can be observed walking or remaining stationary, very close to a calling male. This so-called satellite behaviour sometimes involves the silent male intercepting and mating with females attracted to the caller. To make matters more interesting, in some species of crickets, parasitic flies have evolved the ability to hear males . They find and lay living larvae on calling males. Males that call and attract females don't live as long as males that spend more time in satellite behaviour. Laboratory experiments show that the amount of time that a male spends calling is, in part, due to genetic influences and the maintenance of calling and non-calling male behaviour in a population is the subject of much research.

Crickets have been widely studied and there is a lot of literature readily available to the teacher and student. These papers and books are intended for various audiences and we have had students both in junior high school and university read publications on crickets. A list of suggested literature is included in the material.

Crickets can be raised very inexpensively using materials readily available in science classrooms. You can collect many species in the summer and fall and a number of "cricket farms" sell them by the hundreds for little cost.

We hope you use these fascinating insects to teach important scientific skills and gain understanding of insects. Please contact us with comments and questions. Please use the material freely, but we retain rights to the intellectual property. (Copyright 1996, Cade, Elsa and William.)

Crickets in the Classroom!

Each of the following links will take you to a particular section in the study.

Where to get crickets, how to keep them and what to feed them!

What are Some Questions We Might Have?

Crickets and Temperature from


Measurment and Graphing of the Stages of the Nymphs

Measuring and Graphing Crickets Worksheet

Tracking the Growth of a Population Worksheets

Crickets: Conducting Observations Worksheets 1 and 2

A Sample Two Week Lesson Plan

Useful Books

Light and Dark Experiment
Rearing Checklist and More Ideas for Experiments

Cross Curricular Extentions

Recipe for chocolate covered crickets

A couple of cricket scientists below, but check out My Cricket Links for more scientists and websites pertaining to crickets

Other Entomological Links

My Science Links

Dan Otte

Interview: Dan Otte a wonderful interview about Dan Otte can be found in Omni magazine

Richard D. Alexander

(Bill) Dr. William Henry Cade's scientific publications

to order crickets

Some of Elsa's Cricket Art work

  • Cricket life Cycle drawing
  • The Cricket: With Labels
  • The Cricket: Blank Labels
  • The Cricket and the Fly

  • a Tree Cricket calling
  • Cricket rearing container: modified plastic trash can

    My Cricket Links

    Wow! Singing Insects of North America

  • William H. Cade


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    This page has been visited  times since August 25, 1998

    Last updated on Tuesday December, 2, 2001

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