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How Do Odors Affect Cricket Behavior?

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Talk It Over

Is the sense of smell important to survival in animals? How do some animals familiar to you respond to certain smells? How can you test the response of crickets to odors?

Get

  • Shoebox
  • Live crickets,* 12 or more
  • Cotton balls
  • Extracts purchased from the spice aisle at the supermarket (try vanilla, almond, peppermint, and others)
  • Other subtances to test, such as perfumes, household cleaners, skin care products, spices, or essential oils (from the health foods store) and others

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. Put the crickets in the box. (It is okay to shake them gently from their egg carton homes. You will not hurt them.)
  2. Watch them for at least 5 minutes. Make careful notes of everything you see them doing. These observations will serve as your control.
  3. Put a few drops of an extract on a cotton ball. Put the cotton ball in the box with the crickets. Watch again for 5 minutes or more, carefully recording anything the crickets do in response to the extract.
  4. Remove the cotton ball and discard it. Give your crickets 10 minutes to rest. Then use a fresh cotton ball and test another substance, just as you did in step 3. Record all your observations carefully.

Stay Safe

The crickets will not hurt you, but be sure to wash your hands before and after this experiment.

Go Easy

The "Go" procedure will work for you.

Go Far

Use the "Go" procedure to design and carry out an investigation to determine which type of insect repellent should be most effective at keeping "bugs" away (assuming mosquitoes act anything like crickets).

Show Your Results

Record your observations in a table like this:

Odor Tested What I Observed The Crickets Doing
None (control)  
Vanilla  
Peppermint . . . and so on  

Write summaries of all your observation and make comparative statements such as, "Extract X attracted the crickets. I concluded this because 7 of my 12 crickets moved closer to it and they moved their antennae around more than the controls did. Extract Z repelled them. Ten of my 12 crickets ran away rom the odor, and they ran fast!"

Tips and Tricks

  • If you don't shake your shoebox around very much, you needn't worry about your crickets hopping out. They'll stay in the box. If they are getting away from you, use a taller box for your observations.
  • The warmer the room, the more your crickets will move around. To make your observations easier, work in a cool place.
  • Be patient and look closely. Crickets do many interesting things. Try to describe them in as much detail as you can.
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