Most types of cricket are defenceless insects. They have only their strong hind legs to jump away from danger and are camouflaged to hide in their habitat. If they are caught by the leg, they can release the leg and continue to live with the five remaining ones. Crickets are the chosen prey of a wide range of animals but have survived for over three million years so they must be very good at avoiding being eaten. Here are some of their main predators:
Main Cricket Predators
Frogs are the biggest predators of crickets. With their long, soft tongues, they are able to catch a cricket in the blink of an eye. Their tongues work like a bungee rope covered in super sticky saliva. Once the tongue has grasped the cricket, the saliva turns watery to release the cricket once it is safely deposited in the frog’s mouth.
There are thousands of different types of lizards around the world and not all of them are carnivores. However, those that enjoy a tasty cricket meal. Lizards lie in wait and detect their prey’s movements. To be able to catch a cricket they have to be close to avoid being spotted. They then use their long, gluey tongue to reach across and grasp their prey. This predator of crickets jaws are well-equipped for crunching through the exoskeleton of the cricket. They have rows of teeth on the upper and lower jaws, as well as teeth on the roof of the mouth. They crush food with their jaws before swallowing.
Tortoises are reptiles that live on the land. They are easy to identify because they have a shell on their back and can retract the head and legs when they are in danger. Some are omnivores, which means that they eat plants and animals. Those that do, will catch and eat crickets. Tortoises have no teeth, but they can grab a cricket using the sharp edges of its beak. It will then hold it still in its strong jaws. If it is small enough, the tortoise will swallow it whole or, it will use its sharp claws to shred the cricket into small bite-sized pieces.
Spiders are arachnids – meaning that they have segmented bodies. They are found everywhere on Earth except for Antarctica. Not all spiders eat crickets, but hunting spiders are the main predators of crickets. They hide in places where they are well-camouflaged and pounce on crickets when they are close enough. Their jaws have fang-like attachments at the tip which are used to grab or squash their prey. Spiders are fussy about their food and will only eat live prey or prey that they have killed a short time ago.
Salamanders that live on land are carnivorous and will eat almost anything that they can catch. Although they look like lizards, they are amphibians and are not related to the lizard family at all. Like frogs, they have long sticky tongues which they use very effectively to catch crickets and other prey. As soon as cricket gets within striking distance, the salamander will leap towards it and the tongue completes the catch.
Many insect-eating birds love to eat crickets. They are the main predator of the cricket when they are returning in the springtime and have hungry beaks to feed in their nests. Crickets provide a crunchy protein snack for these birds and their chicks. Other birds such as turkeys, blackbirds, and hawks also eat crickets if they happen to come across them.
Snakes are another carnivorous reptile that eats crickets if they can catch them in the wild. Small snakes, in particular, can catch many varieties of cricket without much effort. For larger insects, snakes inject them with venom before eating them. Here is an interesting fact: On the Yucatan Peninsula, there is a type of snake that eats only crickets!
Almost all bats eat insects as they are classed as insectivores. Bats eat a wide range of insects and millions of them in an hour. This is very useful for keeping the insect population under control, but bad news for insects. One of their favorite foods is the cricket. With their amazing hunting skills and the ability to detect the faintest sounds and movements, bats are a serious threat to crickets. They are one of main cricket predators.
Insects, including crickets, make up a large amount of the diet of the shrew. A shrew is a small mammal that looks like a mouse, but it is not a rodent. It has a face like a mole and very sharp, spiky teeth. They are carnivorous and insectivorous so their diet consists of crickets among other types of insects, spiders, and worms. Shrews need to eat an enormous amount of food each day and will starve to death if they do not each every couple of hours. This makes them a common predator of the cricket.
Mantis are predators of crickets and other insects. The Praying Mantis only eats live insects that have just been caught. Although the mantis is a slow-moving insect, it has large front legs covered with spines that are perfect for grabbing prey. They camouflage themselves and wait patiently for prey to approach. The Praying Mantis is the only identified insect that can turn its head and look over its shoulders. This gives it a tremendous advantage as a predator. Once a cricket or other insect has been spotted, it stalks them with slow, furtive movements.
Crickets have a large number of predators in the wild. They are also prone to many diseases and parasites. Infestation by mites and worms is a threat to crickets. They can be stung by parasitic wasps that want to lay eggs in a cricket’s living body. If they are not attacked by viruses and fungal infections, then they run the risk of ending up on a restaurant menu. The reason for this is scientists have found out that they are a great source of protein for humans!
I hope that this article on cricket predators was helpful! If you are interested, visit the Animal Facts Page!