The effects of mass and age on standard metabolic rate in house crickets


Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey 08544-1003, U.S.A. Fax: + 1609 258 1334. E-mail:


Abstract. This study employed flow-through respirometry to measure the oxygen consumption rates (VO2) of inactive male house crickets, Acheta domesticus L. (Orthoptera: Gryllidae), and to quantify the effects of body mass and adult age on standard metabolic rate (SMR). The Vo2 increased with male body mass at a rate similar to that found in other studies of insect aerobic metabolism. The data reported in this study are combined with published data from other species of Orthoptera to generate a consensus allometric relationship between SMR and body mass for the Order. In general, the Orthoptera expend 2–3 times the energy per unit of body mass when inactive as compared to other arthropods, such as tenebrionid beetles, ants and spiders. Possible explanations for this substantial difference are discussed. By contrast to body mass, mass-specific Vo2 decreased with increasing male age. This age effect has previously been reported for mammals but is not well established for insects, and its implications for the preference of cricket females for older mates is discussed. As energy expended for metabolic maintenance comprises 78% of a male cricket's daily energy budget, changes in SMR may have a substantial effect on the energy available for reproduction.