“How can you tell the difference between a male cricket and a female one?”

The crickets may have gone back to school, but we’re still learning from them. Last week, we explored the question of whether crickets have hearts. This week we’re learning about ovipositors, aka that black thing that lets you tell the difference between male and female crickets.

Although Charles Allen Cricket II and Debbie Davis Cricket are no longer part of the Caterpickles family, I’m certain they won’t mind if we borrow their pictures for a little demonstration.

This is Charles Allen Cricket II. I have it on excellent authority that he’s a male.

Charles Allen Cricket II (Photo: Shala Howell)

Charles Allen Cricket II (Photo: Shala Howell)

And this is Debbie Davis, Cricket, most certainly a female.

Debbie Davis, Cricket (Photo: Shala Howell)

Debbie Davis, Cricket (Photo: Shala Howell)

I know this because Debbie’s ovipositor is showing. The ovipositor is the organ female crickets (and other female insects) use to lay their eggs. It’s the little black stump coming off Debbie’s bottom. Here’s a closeup.

(Photo: Shala Howell)

(Photo: Shala Howell)

The two bits sticking out on either side of the ovipositor, by the way, are called cerci. These are sensory organs that the crickets use to feel their surroundings. Male crickets have them too.

So to sum up, if the cricket you’re looking at has two bits sticking out of its bottom, it’s a male. But if there are three, you’re looking at a female. It really is as simple as that.

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About Shala Howell

I spent two decades helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. Now I'm working on a much harder problem -- fostering children’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them. The first book in my Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how to use public art to nurture children’s curiosity in the world around them. My next book will focus on science, and how parents without a science degree can answer their curious child's questions without enrolling in a college level refresher course. In the meantime, you can find me blogging about life with a very curious Eleven-Year-Old at Caterpickles.com, chatting about books and the writing life at BostonWriters.blog, and tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell.
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2 Responses to “How can you tell the difference between a male cricket and a female one?”

  1. Pingback: “How can you tell the difference between a white weasel and an ermine?” | CATERPICKLES

  2. Pingback: Caterpickles goes to the library: “How can you tell the difference between a raven and a crow?” | CATERPICKLES

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