Here’s why cricket farmers want to go green – literally

ATLANTA, Ga. – Crickets are a valued protein in some parts of the world. But the two teenagers learned that growing cricket as a small animal has its challenges. Thanks to their solution, these young Thai scientists won a finalist position at the 2022 Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) earlier this month.

Jrasnatt Vongkampun and Marisa Arjananont tasted cricket for the first time while walking outside the market near their home. As food lovers, they accepted that the insect sweets were delicious. This led 18-year-olds to look for a cricket farm. There they learned of a major problem facing cricketers.

These farmers grow groups of these insects nearby. Large crickets often attack smaller ones. When attacked, a cricket will cut off its limb to escape the claws of that predator. But after giving the limb, this animal will often die. And if that doesn’t happen, it’s still a way to get more involved with the animal.

Now these two seniors at Princess Chulabhorn Science High School in Lat Lum Kaeo Pathumthani have reportedly found a simple solution. They keep their animals in colored light. Crickets that live in bright green are less likely to attack each other. Insects also suffer from lower limb amputation and mortality rates, young scientists have now reported.

The advantage of being green

The teens left the cricket farm with a few hundred eggs of the species Teleogryllus mitratus. Jrasnatt and Marisa decided to fix their leg problem. After some research, they found that colored light can affect the behavior of some animals, including insects. Can colored lights cut the risk of crickets?

To find out, the researchers transferred newly created batches of 30 larvae into each box of 24. The egg cartons inside provided shelter for the small animals.

The crickets in the six boxes were only exposed to red light. The other six boxes were lit with green. The blue light illuminated six other boxes. These three groups of insects spent hours during their lives — about two months — in a world bathed in a single light color. The last six cricket boxes lived in natural light.

Caring for crickets was a full-time job. Like humans, these insects prefer about 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness. The lights weren’t automatic, so Jrasnatt and Marisa took turns turning them on every morning at 6 p.m. When it came to feeding small animals, teenagers had to work hard to ensure that the crickets in the colored light groups had the least possible exposure to natural light. Soon, the girls became fans of cricket, enjoying the tweet and showing it to their friends.

“We see them growing every day and we take notes on what’s going on,” says Marisa. “We’re like Kilkir’s parents.”

Over time, how many crickets were lost and killed by teenage body limbs. The part of the crickets that lacked red horns was about 10 out of 9 among those who lived in red, blue, or natural light. But less than 7 out of 10 crickets raised in the green world lost their legs. Also, the survival rate of green box crickets was four to five times higher than other boxes.

on a shelf are containers lit by green, red, or blue light
Jrasnatt and Marisa put their crickets in a classroom. They bathed their animals in light of different colors for two months every day during daylight hours.J. Vongkampun and M. Arjananont

Why can green be so special?

Cricket’s eyes are adapted to see only in green and blue light, as teenagers have learned. So in the red light, the world would always be dark. Without seeing each other, they are more likely to meet. When crickets get closer to each other, Jrasnatt explains, “that will lead to more cannibalism.” Or an attempt at cannibalism, which loses its cricketing horns.

Crickets attract more blue lights than green lights, which brings them closer together and causes more fights. In the green light box — the nuance of life under the leaves — the crickets would take care of their own affairs and avoid quarrels.

Creating a world of green light for cricket is a solution that can be taken to farms. Jrasnatt and Marisa are already talking to farmers who bought them cricket eggs. These farmers plan to try green lighting to see if it will increase their profits.

This new study earned Jrasnatt and Marisa third place and $ 1,000 in the Animal Science category in the new competition. Another 1,750 students were competing for nearly $ 8 million in prizes. He has run the ISEF Society for Science (the publisher of this journal) since its inception in 1950.

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