I’ve finished presenting my "Catch the Reading Bug" library program for summer — which means having to decide whether or not to keep my new pet bugs. As advertised, I made cute little houses for them (like this butterfly pavilion) and learned something about their care and feeding. For instance, ladybugs may eat sweet allysum nectar in a pinch, but they don’t thrive on it. And ants are hard to find when the ground’s totally saturated, as it has been after this summer’s nonstop thunderstorms.
But crickets are hardy. We caught a few different females (I
suspect they’re slower hoppers) before finally netting a male. The males, of course, are the only ones who chirp — and what’s the point of having that weird crispy-fried looking beast sitting on your dining room table if it’s not going to provide background interference when you’re trying to watch TV after the kids go to bed?
Once we were done with the program, I was ready to set our small friend free. But one of the kids expressed an interest in keeping him around a few more weeks. Extending his lease entitled him to bigger digs, I felt, so we checked with Seymour Simon’s book Pets in a Jar, ran down to Home Depot for some sand and cleaned out the former ladybug terrarium for our noisy neighbor. He’s now quite cozy in his larger jar, complete with leaf and a piece of bark to hide under.
Just before his move, however, my son caught our musical guest out in the open, rubbing his wings together for all he’s worth.
It’s called stridulation, and it involves rubbing the sharp edge of one wing across the bumpy edge of the other. I designed a cricket chirper for Family Fun that shows how it works. (You can see one family’s version here.)
Kathy Ceceri is the author of Around the World Crafts: Great Activities for Kids who Like History, Math, Art, Science and More!