Einstein Science Reporting for Kids
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3-Jun-2010

Contact: Science Press Package
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American Association for the Advancement of Science

A bug's life, the cricket version



Male (right) and female crickets outside their burrow in a field in northern Spain.
[Image courtesy of Tom Tregenza and Rolando Rodríguez-Muñoz]

Most of what scientists know about how insects behave is from studies that take place in the laboratory. To learn about bug life in the wild, a research team set up a network of motion-sensitive, infrared-equipped cameras and microphones in a field that a population of wild crickets calls home.

Rolando Rodriguez-Muñoz of the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom and his colleagues then snooped on the crickets around the clock, monitoring their every move.



Male (left) and female crickets outside their burrow in a field in northern Spain.
[Image courtesy of Tom Tregenza and Rolando Rodríguez-Muñoz]

They watched the crickets fight, mate, get eaten by birds, and other ups and downs of insect life. The researchers also sampled the crickets' DNA so they could tell which adults produced which young.

One of the scientists interesting findings was that it's hard for a cricket to pass along its genes to future generations. Most crickets' offspring didn't survive long enough to breed themselves.

Contrary to what the scientists were expecting, the traits that made males more attractive as mates, like being large or a good fighter, didn't always make them more likely to have baby crickets.

This research appears in the 4 June 2010 issue of the journal Science.

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