Life history and behaviour

Male and female field cricket nymphs over-winter separately, with each digging their own hibernation burrow. They emerge from their burrows in March and become adults during April and May. 

Burrows are visible in May to June, before the surrounding vegetation grows too high. Both sexes eat the grass in front of the burrows, keeping the entrance clear.

Attracting a mate

When mature, the adult females leave their burrows to seek males, and the mature males start singing to attract females. 

Each male sings at the entrance to his burrow, and when a female arrives he will perform his courtship song to her, and they mate. The male may try to block the female in his burrow (for future mating) if she enters it, a risky endeavour for him as the female may severely maul him in order to get away. 

Reproduction and early development

After mating, the females wander off to lay eggs, and may disappear for over a week at a time during this process. Eggs are laid singly from May to July, hatching within 3-4 weeks, from June onwards. Nymphs reach their penultimate instar (usually 10th) in the autumn, when they hibernate for the winter.

Behaviour if disturbed

Adults will rapidly retreat down their burrows when disturbed, but may be induced to come out again by the insertion of a blade of grass, a technique described by Gilbert White (1789): '…a pliant stalk of grass, gently insinuated into the caverns, will probe their windings to the bottom and quickly bring out the inhabitant'. 

Singing

The male field cricket raises his fore wings slightly to produce a song of short shrill bursts at a rate of about 3-4 per second. This is audible for a hundred yards or more (for those with good high frequency hearing).

A good sized colony will have many males chirping during much of the day and night, though strong sunshine at midday may cause them to retreat into their burrows.

Field crickets are kept as pets in southern Europe, as are related species in China, in small cages. They survive well if supplied with food and moisture.