Cannibalistic Cricket Spews Blood and Vomit to Defend Itself

Image: Sonia Soma/ Wikimedia Commons

Talk about weird defensive strategies! When attacked, this cricket ejects blood from various parts of its body and vomits all over itself.

Native to parts of southern Africa, the armored ground cricket is one tough creature, as its name suggest. The large, flightless insect is impressively outfitted with an armored exoskeleton, five rows of spikes that shield its abdomen, and powerful jaws for biting into decaying flesh and foliage. But despite all the gear, the crickets are commonly hunted by a variety of predators, forcing them to kick things up a notch.

Armored ground crickets can shoot green, bitter and acrid-smelling hemolymph (insect blood) from gaps in their bodies. The noxious substance repels predators almost immediately.

Image: Rudi Bosbouer/ Wikimedia Commons

A study conducted by entomologists Bill Bateman and Trish Fleming and published in the Journal of Insect Behavior reveals the crickets vary their defensive strategies based on the type of attack:

When attacked from the side, however, they try to bite the attacker and often squirt blood from behind their legs and head in the direction of the attack. Males also respond to threats by stridulating (rubbing their hind legs together to produce a loud noise), but females are unable to do so.

However, when the attack comes from above, leaving them unable to bite, the crickets will release “a well of blood” — an event that evidently occurred about 90% of the time in their experiments.

The crickets can eject blood up to an impressive distance of 6 centimeters, and they apparently release anywhere from 5mg to 80mg of blood at one time.

If all else fails, they’ll regurgitate their last meal and cover their entire bodies with vomit to make themselves extra unappealing.

To make things even weirder, these guys are cannibals, and will happily eat fellow comrades that appear to be injured. For this reason, the crickets thoroughly clean themselves after they’ve squirted blood or regurgitated — just in case one of their brethren gets any ideas.