Crickets talk trash, dance and brag, study finds

An Ontario researcher has discovered that common male crickets talk trash, dance and brag after winning a fight.

An Ontario researcher has discovered that common male crickets talk trash, dance and brag after winning a fight.

The discovery has caught the attention of fellow researchers and National Geographic magazine.

Lauren Fitzsimmons, a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Windsor, discovered the brash behaviour.

Fitzsimmons placed pairs of male crickets in a small, clear arena, which always led to fights. The arena included a viewing area for other crickets. She set up three audience situations: a male watching and listening to a fight, a female watching and listening to a fight, or no audience.

The combatants bit, pushed and flipped each other around the ring.

'They're showing off'

"After a series of these bouts, one male will kind of sulk away and not interact anymore, while the other will perform a song and dance," Fitzsimmons said.

She said the winning cricket would "shake his body back and forth" and chirp in victory.

"When we had a male audience watching, the male would produce more of these victory displays," Fitzsimmons said. "The speculation is they can tell there is another individual there, and they’re showing off.

"We know females prefer dominant males and males who win fights."

The results showed that all the males fought more violently, and put on more elaborate victory dances when a male or a female was watching than when they had no audience at all.

When it comes to a male audience, Fitzsimmons said a win might deter future aggression from other crickets.

National Geographic

"They're saying 'look how tough I am, I just beat this guy, you don’t want to mess with me,'" Fitzsimmons explained.

She said it's already been proven that mammals, fish and birds display similar actions but that insects haven't been studied as closely.

Fitzsimmons recently published an article on her findings in the journal Biology Letters.

The study caught the attention of National Geographic, too.

"It was really exciting when my scientific paper came out, and then I was contacted by National Geographic," she said. "I was surprised and thrilled. It’s one of the biggest outlets for science news. It’s getting a lot of attention. It’s really exciting."