These Crickets Eat Their Own Kind — And Here's How They Pick Their Meals

Mormon crickets occasionally swarm across the Midwest in droves. They keep moving across vast distances, for two reasons – they’re looking for food, and they don’t want to look like food to each other. Here’s how to keep being eaten by cannibals, if you’re a cricket.

In 2006, researchers looking into the swarming behavior of Mormon crickets found that the swarming insects aren’t just looking for any food. They’re looking for protein and salt. As we’ve seen, crickets themselves are good sources of protein, if not good ingredients for baked goods.

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A few dissected crickets later and it was confirmed. The best protein source for Mormon crickets was other Mormon crickets. They dined on each other, and preferred protein-filled foods, to such an extent that one scientists was very mildly worried about what would happen if someone stopped moving and lay down in the path of the swarm.

If being eaten by crickets sounds like a fun time to you, you might want to read a study conducted a few years later, during which another research team attempted to find out how the crickets chose who they would make into a meal. They found that a cricket became more of a target if it was perpendicular to the flow of traffic, and if it stopped moving. However, the biggest predictor of when crickets would attack, and attack successfully? How many crickets were already around the body of the stationary cricket. They don’t just swarm to travel, they swarm to attack. Once one cricket starts munching, others are more likely to join in. The more crickets are attacking, the more will attack.

Seriously, you’re probably never going to die by cricket attack, unless you’re in a car and a swarm gets in the way of your ability to drive. But come on, Syfy! Get on this! Death Swarm! Keep moving — or they’ll get you!

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Image: OSU Special Collections & Archives : Commons

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