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How Do Crickets Respond to Light and Dark?

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Talk It Over

What do you see dogs, cats, birds, insects, and other animals doing? How do they respond to changes in their environment? What do you think crickets might do if they have a choice between light and dark places?

Get

  • Opaque plastic shoebox with a transparent lid
  • Ruler
  • Marker
  • Live crickets,* 12 or more
  • Stopwatch or kitchen timer with seconds
  • Desk lamp
  • Dark-colored towel

Note: You can maintain crickets for weeks in any small, ventilated box equipped with pieces of egg carton for shelter and a slice of apple for food and moisture.

Go

  1. Measure the length of the box lid. Find the midpoint. Use the marker to draw a line on the lid across the middle, like this:
  2. Put the open box under the desk lamp. Turn the lamp on.
  3. Put the crickets into the box. (It is okay to shake them gently from their egg carton homes. You will not hurt them.)
  4. Put the lid on the box. Put the lamp close to the top of the box. Make sure the box is evenly lighted—no dark corners!
  5. Watch the crickets for about 10 minutes. Make notes about things you see them doing.
  6. Gently, without jiggling the crickets too much, place the towel over ½ of the lid.
  7. Start the stopwatch. Every 15 seconds, record the number of crickets you count in the light side of the box. Keep counting and recording for 3 minutes or longer.

Stay Safe

Be careful with the desk lamp. The bulb can get very hot and burn your fingers.

Go Easy

Follow the "Go" procedure, but count and record numbers ever 30 seconds instead of every 15.

Go Far

Follow the "Go" procedure, repeating the experiment three or more times and averaging your results. From your average data, calculate the percent of the crickets that remain in the light, using this formula:

  • (number of crickets in the light ÷ total number of crickets) × 100 = percent in the light

Note that the percent of the crickets in the dark equals 100 percent minus the percent in the light. Or

 

      • percent in the light + percent in the dark = 100 percent

You may also design and conduct experiments to see how crickets respond to differences in temperature, moisture, or some other condition in the environment. Or you might try similar experiments with other readily available animals such as mealworms or maggots (available from bait shops).

Show Your Results

Record numbers in a data table like this for "Go Easy":

Time Number in Light Number in Dark Total
0 seconds     12
30 seconds     12
1 minute     12
1 minute 30 seconds     12
2 minutes     12
2 minutes 30 seconds     12
3 minutes     12

Make a bar graph to show differences.

Use the same kind of data table and bar graph for "Go," but record data every 15 seconds.

For "Go Far," include percents in your data tables. Make a master table that averages your results from three trials. Make a line graph of average percents by time. Use different color lines to show percents of crickets in light and dark conditions. State a possible explanation for any differences you measured. Make similar tables and graphs for any other experiments you conduct.

Tips and Tricks

  • Don't expect every cricket to behave as your averages predict. Individual crickets, like individual humans, vary in their responses.
  • If you can't find an opaque plastic shoebox with a transparent top, use an ordinary shoebox with a sheet of glass or clear plastic on top.
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