Create a Chirp City Cricket Farm -- a home for crickets -- that looks like a giant bug. Put some real crickets in Chirp City and watch them explore, eat, lay eggs, and chirp.
What You'll Need:
- Plastic 2-liter bottle
- 6 smaller plastic bottles (all the same size)
- Safety scissors
- Wire mesh
- Silicone caulk
- Black permanent marker
- 2 chenille stems
- Potting soil
- Small plastic container lid
- Assorted foods
How to Make Chirp City Cricket Farm:
Step 1: Lay the 2-liter bottle down lengthwise. Cut 3 holes in a row on each side of the bottle, for a total of 6 holes. The holes should be just large enough for the necks of the 6 smaller bottles to fit into.
Step 2: In the middle of the big bottle, cut a food hole about 2x2 inches. Cut air holes in 4 of the smaller bottles.
Step 3: Cut wire mesh large enough to cover the holes, and use the silicone to attach the mesh over the air holes. Use silicone caulk only in a well-ventilated area. Also cut a piece of mesh to cover the food hole.
Step 4: Place branches in smaller bottles so that the branches stick a few inches out of the bottle. This will give the crickets something to crawl on so they can go between the bottles.
Step 5: Put the 6 small bottles into the holes of the large bottle. The branches will stick into the larger bottle.
Step 6: Apply the silicone around the necks of the smaller bottles. Use the silicone to seal the bottles together so there are no holes. Let the silicone dry before moving the bottles.
Step 7: Make your Chirp City resemble an insect. The smaller bottles are its 3 pairs of legs. Draw eyes on the round part of the big bottle with the marker.
Step 8: The chenille stems will be antennae. Make small circles about 1 inch in diameter at an end of each chenille stem. Glue the circles to either side of the "cricket" head so that the straight ends rise from it.
Step 9: Add potting soil to the big bottle so the soil is just below the entrance of the small bottles.
Step 10: Put the small plastic container lid below the food hatch. Put the cricket food in this dish.
Step 11: Remove the bottle cap from the large bottle. Roll up a sponge, and place it into the opening of the bottle.
Step 12: When you add crickets to the bottle, keep the sponge moist. The crickets will use this as a source of water. Allow some water from the sponge to go into the soil near the sponge. The crickets you're about to add will lay their eggs in this moist soil.
Step 13: Buy crickets from a pet store. Put them inside Chirp City, and watch them grow and reproduce.
Safety Tip: Cutting holes in the plastic bottles is dangerous. Only careful adults should cut the holes. An adult should apply the caulk.
How to Maintain Chirp City Cricket Farm:
Keep the sponge moist, and give your crickets new food every few days. They will eat almost anything: lettuce, fruit, ground-up dog food, powdered milk, or other foods. Be sure to regularly remove old food so it does not decay. Keep the food hatch closed with tape.
Chirp City comes alive as soon as you add the crickets. They will quickly explore different parts of the city. They may have difficulty walking directly on the smooth plastic, which is why the soil and sticks help them move from one chamber to another.
You will hear chirping in your city, especially at night. Crickets tend to be nocturnal, which means they are most active in the evenings. The mature female crickets will lay eggs in the moist soil. These hatch into tiny crickets in a couple of weeks.
Baby crickets resemble the parents, but they are much smaller. They grow in size until their exoskeleton becomes too small. They molt, or shed the exoskeleton, and then grow a new one. If you don't feed your crickets enough food, the adult crickets will eat the eggs before they can hatch.
Crickets not your bag? Make up an insect of your own in the next craft.