Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

Oating for Orthopterans

Carolyn Nixon


 

Camel_cricket2.jpgMany crickets (members of the order Orthoptera) are strongly attracted to grain products, especially grains that are cracked or broken.  Biologists have learned that they can attract these insects, many of which are difficult to spot in their natural habitat, by using grains as bait.

There are many species of crickets, most of which are overlooked because bush_cricket_nymph_PLN.jpgthey are active at night and because they are cryptic, that is, they blend in with their habitat.  To get a chance to view some of the variety of crickets in your yard, you can put out grain products to attract them.  One of the best grain products to use is rolled oats (uncooked oatmeal).  You can purchase the old-fashioned rolled oats at your local grocery store. 

In your yard or schoolyard, find a place where the ground is devoid of vegetation, such as in shady areas in a woods, or on a path or sidewalk.  Spread a trail of rolled oats at the edge of the path.  

Go back after dark with a flashlight to see what has been attracted to the bait.  You can also cover the oats with newspapers and leave them overnight.  Some species of crickets will be attracted to the bait and stay under cover in the morning.  When you lift the newspaper, they may start to run or fly, so be ready for action.

Some of the other grain products that you can use to attract crickets are wheat bran, oat bran, and rolled barley.  You can even use crumbled bread.   These will also attract grasshoppers, and some species of grasshoppers will come to wheat bran moistened with a little corn oil.

Try different baits and habitat types, such as grassy areas or woods.  See Field_Cricket_Adult_Male_on_Garage.jpgwhat different species you can find using different baits, checking in the evening, or which species will be there in the morning under a cover.  Take photos of the crickets and try to identify them. 

 

Some resources to help you identify crickets:

 

Field Guide to Grasshoppers, Katydids, and Crickets of the United States, by John L. Capinera, Ralph D. Scott, and Thomas J. Walker.  2004. Cornell University Press.

 

How to Know the Grasshoppers, Cockroaches, and Their Allies, by Jacques R. Helfer. 1953. Wm. C. Brown Company Publishers.

 

Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, by Eric R. Eaton

and Kenn Kaufman. 2007. Houghton Mifflin.

 

 

To download a page of Illinois crickets, go to:Illinois_Crickets.pdf

 

“The Naturalist’s Apprentice” presents educational activities for middle school students. Teachers are invited to
photocopy this page for classroom use.

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