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Concept: House cricket


It has been suggested that the ecological impact of crickets as a source of dietary protein is less than conventional forms of livestock due to their comparatively efficient feed conversion and ability to consume organic side-streams. This study measured the biomass output and feed conversion ratios of house crickets (Acheta domesticus) reared on diets that varied in quality, ranging from grain-based to highly cellulosic diets. The measurements were made at a much greater population scale and density than any previously reported in the scientific literature. The biomass accumulation was strongly influenced by the quality of the diet (p<0.001), with the nitrogen (N) content, the ratio of N to acid detergent fiber (ADF) content, and the crude fat (CF) content (y=N/ADF+CF) explaining most of the variability between feed treatments (p = 0.02; R2 = 0.96). In addition, for populations of crickets that were able to survive to a harvestable size, the feed conversion ratios measured were higher (less efficient) than those reported from studies conducted at smaller scales and lower population densities. Compared to the industrial-scale production of chickens, crickets fed a poultry feed diet showed little improvement in protein conversion efficiency, a key metric in determining the ecological footprint of grain-based livestock protein. Crickets fed the solid filtrate from food waste processed at an industrial scale via enzymatic digestion were able to reach a harvestable size and achieve feed and protein efficiencies similar to that of chickens. However, crickets fed minimally-processed, municipal-scale food waste and diets composed largely of straw experienced >99% mortality without reaching a harvestable size. Therefore, the potential for A. domesticus to sustainably supplement the global protein supply, beyond what is currently produced via grain-fed chickens, will depend on capturing regionally scalable organic side-streams of relatively high-quality that are not currently being used for livestock production.

Concepts: Protein, Population, Population ecology, Ecology, Ratio, Population density, Carrying capacity, House cricket


Crickets and other orthopteran insects sense air currents with a pair of abdominal appendages resembling antennae, called cerci. Each cercus in the common house cricket Acheta domesticus is covered with between 500 to 750 filiform mechanosensory hairs. The distribution of the hairs on the cerci, as well as the global patterns of their movement axes, are very stereotypical across different animals in this species, and the development of this system has been studied extensively. Although hypotheses regarding the mechanisms underlying pattern development of the hair array have been proposed in previous studies, no quantitative modeling studies have been published that test these hypotheses. We demonstrate that several aspects of the global pattern of mechanosensory hairs can be predicted with considerable accuracy using a simple model based on two independent morphogen systems. One system constrains inter-hair spacing, and the second system determines the directional movement axes of the hairs.

Concepts: Scientific method, Insect, Cricket, Crickets, House cricket, Acheta, Earwig, Orthoptera


Many factors may affect pesticide effectiveness against pests. One of the factors that should be considered is circadian rhythmicity. In this study, we evaluated daily variations in pyrethroid susceptibility in the house cricket, Acheta domesticus L. Crickets were exposed to a standard dose of ß-cyfluthrin at different times of a day, and pesticide residue levels were evaluated using gas chromatography. Results demonstrate that the time of pyrethroid disappearance is correlated with the circadian clock, with the highest decomposition rate at night. Furthermore, crickets also showed the highest resistance to the insecticide at night, expressed as a high survival rate. Moreover, ß-cyfluthrin induced significant changes in thermal preferences of intoxicated crickets. This is the first report showing that pyrethroid residue levels in the crickets' body depend on its circadian clock.

Concepts: Time, Pesticide, Circadian rhythm, Crickets, Insecticide, DDT, House cricket, Acheta


Hemolymph calcium homeostasis in insects is achieved by the Malpighian tubules, primarily by sequestering excess Ca(2+) within internal calcium stores (Ca-rich granules) most often located within type I (principal) tubule cells. Using both the scanning ion-selective electrode technique and the Ramsay secretion assay this study provides the first measurements of basolateral and transepithelial Ca(2+) fluxes across the Malpighian tubules of an Orthopteran insect, the house cricket Acheta domesticus. Ca(2+) transport was specific to midtubule segments, where 97% of the Ca(2+) entering the tubule is sequestered within intracellular calcium stores and the remaining 3% is secreted into the lumen. Antagonists of voltage-gated (L-type) calcium channels decreased Ca(2+) influx ≥fivefold in adenosine 3',5'-cyclic monophosphate (cAMP)-stimulated tubules, suggesting basolateral Ca(2+) influx is facilitated by voltage-gated Ca(2+) channels. Increasing fluid secretion through manipulation of intracellular levels of cAMP or Ca(2+) had opposite effects on tubule Ca(2+) transport. The adenylyl cyclase-cAMP-PKA pathway promotes Ca(2+) sequestration whereas both 5-hydroxytryptamine and thapsigargin inhibited sequestration. Our results suggest that the midtubules of Acheta domesticus are dynamic calcium stores, which maintain hemolymph calcium concentration by manipulating rates of Ca(2+) sequestration through stimulatory (cAMP) and inhibitory (Ca(2+) ) regulatory pathways.

Concepts: Golgi apparatus, Insect, Cell biology, Crickets, House cricket, Acheta, Sequestration, Sequestering


The objective of this study was to determine the effect of house cricket (Acheta domesticus) flour addition on physicochemical and textural properties of meat emulsion under various formulations. As an initial marker of functionality, protein solubility, water absorption, emulsifying capacity, and gel formation ability of house cricket flour were determined at pH (2 to 10) and NaCl concentrations (0 to 2.10 M). Control emulsion was formulated with 60% lean pork, 20% back fat, and 20% ice. Six treatment emulsions were prepared with replacement of lean pork and/or back fat portions with spray-dried house cricket flour at 5% and 10% levels, based on a total sample weight. The protein solubility of house cricket flour (67 g protein/100 g) was significantly altered depending upon pH (P < 0.0001) and NaCl concentration (P = 0.0421). Similar water absorption capacity, emulsifying capacity, and gel formation ability of house cricket flour were found between 0 and 2.10 M NaCl concentration (P > 0.05). The replacement of lean meat/fat portion with house cricket flour within 10% level could fortify protein and some micronutrients (phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium) in meat emulsion, without negative impacts on cooking yield and textural properties. Our results suggest that house cricket flour can be used as an effective nonmeat functional ingredient to manufacture emulsified meat products.

Concepts: Protein, Nutrition, Water, Colloid, Emulsion, Crickets, House cricket, Acheta


For insects, choosing a favorable oviposition site is a type of parental care, as far as it increases the fitness of its offspring. Niche theory predicts that crickets should show a bell-shaped oviposition response to substrate moisture. However, lab experiments with mole crickets showed a linear oviposition response to substrate moisture. Studies with the house cricket Acheta domesticus also showed a linear juvenile body growth response to water availability, thus adult ovipositing females should respond positively to substrate moisture. We used a field experiment to evaluate the relationship between oviposition preference and substrate moisture in forest litter-dwelling cricket species. We also evaluated oviposition responses to substrate moisture level in Ubiquepuella telytokous, the most abundant litter cricket species in our study area, using a laboratory study. We offered cotton substrate for oviposition which varied in substrate moisture level from zero (i.e., dry) to maximum water absorption capacity. We used two complementary metrics to evaluate oviposition preference: (i) presence or absence of eggs in each sampling unit as binary response variable, and (ii) number of eggs oviposited per sampling unit as count response variable. To test for non-linear responses, we adjusted generalized additive models (GAMM) with mixed effects. We found that both cricket oviposition probability and effort (i.e., number of eggs laid) increased linearly with substrate moisture in the field experiment, and for U. telytokous in the lab experiment. We discarded any non-linear responses. Our results demonstrate the importance of substrate moisture as an ecological niche dimension for litter crickets. This work bolsters knowledge of litter cricket life history association with moisture, and suggests that litter crickets may be particularly threatened by changes in climate that favor habitat drying.

Concepts: Chemistry, Experiment, Laboratory, Preference, Crickets, Offspring, House cricket, Acheta


Although the Mexican Highlands has the highest diversity of small-bodied rattlesnakes in the world, studies on the species found throughout this region have been relatively scarce. This has led to challenges with examining venom phenotypic characteristics, as well as species misidentifications and misclassifications. In the current study we investigated venom variation among four subspecies of Crotalus lepidus (C. l. klaluberi, C. l. lepidus, C. l. maculosus, C. l. morulus) and four subspecies of C. willardi (C. w. amabilis, C. w. obscurus, C. w. silus, and C. w. willardi) that inhabit regions of southwestern United States and central Mexico. SDS-PAGE patterns show the presence of many of the major compounds found in other rattlesnake venoms, although minor variations in protein banding patterns and intensity are recognizable. Most notably, PI-metalloproteinase (SVMP) bands appear to be very faint to absent in northern C. l. lepidus and C. l. klauberi subspecies, but are fairly prominent in all other C. lepidus and C. willardi subspecies. Enzyme activity assays revealed that C. lepidus subspecies exhibit higher SVMP and thrombin-like activities when compared to C. willardi subspecies. Significant differences between subspecies were also observed for kallikrein-like serine protease, L-amino acid oxidase, and phosphodiesterase activities, although these differences appear to be random and fail to follow a geographical or phylogenetic trend. The same relationship was also observed for fibrinogenolytic and coagulation assays. Toxicity assays conducted on lab mice (Mus musculus), house geckos (Hemidactylus frenatus), and house crickets (Acheta domestica) revealed varying toxicities between subspecies, with C. l klauberi being the most toxic towards mice (LD50 = 1.36 μg/g) and house geckos (LD50 = 0.17 μg/g), and C. w. silus being most toxic to house crickets (LD50 = 1.94 μg/g). These results provide additional evidence that geographical isolation, natural selection, and adaptive evolution in response to diets may be driving forces contributing to population-level variation in venom composition.

Concepts: Natural selection, Evolution, United States, Toxicity, Mouse, House mouse, House cricket, Crotalus


1.The Metabolic Theory of Ecology (MTE) predicts observed patterns in ecology based on metabolic rates of individuals. The theory is influential but also criticized for a lack of firm empirical evidence confirming MTE’s quantitative predictions of processes, e.g. outcome of competition, at population or community level. 2.Self-thinning is a well-known population level phenomenon among plants, but a much less studied phenomenon in animal populations and no consensus exists on what a universal thinning slope for animal populations might be, or if it exists. 3.The goal of this study was to use animal self-thinning as a tool to test population-level predictions from MTE, by analyzing (i) if self-thinning can be induced in populations of house crickets (Acheta domesticus) and (ii) if the resulting thinning trajectories can be predicted from metabolic theory, using estimates of the species-specific metabolic rate of A. domesticus 4.I performed a laboratory study where the growth of A. domesticus was followed, from hatching until emergence as adults, in 71 cohorts of five different starting densities. 5.96% of all cohorts in the three highest starting densities showed evidence of self-thinning, with estimated thinning slopes in general being remarkably close to that expected under metabolic constraints: A cross-sectional analysis of all data showing evidence of self-thinning produced an OLS slope of -1.11, exactly that predicted from specific metabolic allometry of Acheta domesticus. This result is furthermore supported by longitudinal analyses, allowing for independent responses within cohorts, producing a mean OLS slope across cohorts of -1.13 and a fixed effect LMEM slope of -1.09. Sensitivity analysis showed that these results are robust to how the criterion for on-going self-thinning was defined. Finally, also as predicted by metabolic theory, temperature had a negative effect on the thinning intercept, producing an estimate of the activation energy identical to that suggested by MTE. 6.This study demonstrates a direct link between the metabolic rate of individuals and a population-level ecological process and as such provides strong support for research that aims to integrate body mass, via its effect on metabolism, consumption and competition, into models of populations and communities. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Scientific method, Metabolism, Hypothesis, Crickets, Basal metabolic rate, Copyright, House cricket, Metabolic theory of ecology


Some insect species are capable of producing an enhanced immune response after a first pathogenic encounter, a process called immune priming. However, whether and how such ability is driven by particular diet components (protein/carbohydrate) have not been explored. Such questions are sound given that, in general, immune response is dietary dependent. We have used adults of the house cricket Acheta domesticus L. (Orthoptera: Gryllidae) and exposed them to the bacteria Serratia marcescens. We first addressed whether survival rate after priming and nonpriming treatments is dietary dependent based on access/no access to proteins and carbohydrates. Second, we investigated how these dietary components affected fat reserves, muscle mass, and body weight, three key traits in insect fitness. Thus, we exposed adult house crickets to either a protein or a carbohydrate diet and measured the three traits. After being provided with protein, primed animals survived longer compared to the other diet treatments. Interestingly, this effect was also sex dependent with primed males having a higher survival than primed females when protein was supplemented. For the second experiment, protein-fed animals had more fat, muscle mass, and body weight than carbohydrate-fed animals. Although we are not aware of the immune component underlying immune priming, our results suggest that its energetic demand for its functioning and/or consequent survival requires a higher demand of protein with respect to carbohydrate. Thus, protein shortage can impair key survival-related traits related to immune and energetic condition. Further studies varying nutrient ratios should verify our results.

Concepts: Immune system, Protein, Metabolism, Nutrition, Energy, Glucose, Crickets, House cricket


It is well-established that parasites in the phylum Nematomorpha induce suicide behavior of their insect hosts in order to bring adult worms to the appropriate habitat for emergence. It is not well-established however, whether other nematomorph-induced behavioral alterations occur prior to worm emergence. The purpose of our study was to evaluate the effect of the nematomorph Paragordius varius on the calling behavior of the male house cricket Acheta domesticus. We hypothesized that cricket calling, an energetically expensive and risky behavior, would be a potential target for nematomorph-induced behavioral alterations. We assessed if and how infection with P. varius affects A. domesticus calling behavior and whether the presence of wings at time of exposure to P. varius influenced changes in calling behavior. We recorded the calling behavior of male A. domesticus over the course of their infection after exposure to P. various prior to or after wing development. Additionally, we assessed whether winged crickets were “callers” or “non-callers” prior to exposure. We found that regardless of cricket developmental stage (or age) at time of infection, infected crickets spent significantly less time calling than their uninfected counterparts but only during the later stages of infection. Developmental stage at infection did affect whether crickets became callers; when infected prior to wing development significantly more uninfected crickets initiated calling, there was no difference between infected and uninfected crickets when infected as winged adults. Infection was a factor in whether “callers” stopped calling with more infected crickets ceasing to call than uninfected cricket. This is the first study to show that infection with nematomorphs affects calling behavior of their insect host. Cricket calling behavior is immensely complex and although it was difficult to elucidate the adaptive nature of these parasite-induced behavioral changes, this study lays the groundwork for future studies to begin teasing out the factors that will help make the determination between side-effect of infection or parasite/host adaptation.

Concepts: Psychology, Human behavior, Crickets, Wing, House cricket, Acheta, Buffalo wings, Nematomorpha