Insects have exoskeletons (hard outer coverings). As they grow, they reach a size where the exoskeletons prevent further growth.
They need to molt or shed these exoskeletons -- a slightly traumatic activity. They slip out of their shells and are left rubbery until new exoskeletons form. See little crickets molt into big crickets with this fun cricket molting activity.
What You'll Need:
- Large plastic tub with lid
- Paper cups
- 2 plastic bottle caps
- Cotton wool
- Dry pet food
HOW TO MAKE A MOLTING MUSEUM FOR CRICKETS:Step 1: Take a plastic tub (such as the kind that contains frozen whipped cream). Put the lid on a piece of wood. With adult help, hammer 12 nail holes into the lid.Step 2: Put sand in the bottom of the tub. Add small paper cups, lying them on their sides. This gives the crickets room to hide.
Step 3: Pack a bottle cap loosely with cotton wool. Add water, and put the cap into the tub. This is the crickets' drinking source. Keep it wet.
Step 4: To feed the crickets, add ground-up dry dog or cat food to the other cap.
Step 5: Buy 10 young crickets from a pet store. Put them in the tub, and quickly put the lid on. Place the tub in a warm place in your home.
Step 6: Observe the crickets as they grow, and watch for signs of molting. After they molt, you can keep their shed exoskeletons.
Step 7: Create a molting museum by pinning shed exoskeletons on cardboard. Pin them from smallest to largest to show how they develop.
Use nails and pins only with the assistance of an adult.
Crickets eat, drink, and develop muscle. As they grow, their exoskeletons become too small. It is like a child getting too big for his snowsuit. Eventually crickets shed their exoskeletons, which split in half.
The crickets emerge in a rubbery state. With no exoskeleton, they have no protection, making them especially likely to hide. Look carefully for them. Look carefully for the shed exoskeletons as well.
The cricket life cycle is an incomplete metamorphosis. Crickets do not become larvae and pupae; rather, newborn crickets are small forms of the adult. After growing and molting, they become adults.
Ever wanted to see a firefly up close and personal? Try the firefly activity on the next page and see for yourself.