Cricket Tales

In a secret field in Northern Spain, hundreds of cricket burrows are monitored using CCTV. This is the first long-term study on the behaviour of wild insects, run by the Wild Crickets research group at the University of Exeter.

Cricket Tales is a citizen science project we designed and developed where players tag events from the cricket CCTV videos, contributing directly to research on insect personalities. The results will tell us whether some crickets are more active in the morning, while others are more active at night. This tells us how flexible their lifestyles are, and how insects might cope as our climate changes. At the end of each game, the latest results are displayed, including the data just contributed - making the player the first person to ever see the most recent research results.

Cricket Tales has been installed for several years at the Eden Project (on our permanent screens in the Invisible Worlds building), you can also play online and access the source code.

We're now developing new teaching resources using Cricket Tales, focusing on parts of the Key Stage 3 curriculum including graphs and variation, with support from Janine Bisson (Education Projects Manager, STEM Coordinator, and Nuffield Coordinator South West, at the Cornwall Education Business Partnership and Cornwall Council) and Chris Bisson (Lecturer at Eden Project Learning).

The project is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council.

Screenshot of page for choosing your cricket, showing 5 photos of crickets in different styles of illustrated frames

Screenshot of training stage with a cricket video, prompt to notice it singing, and various buttons for tagging behaviours

Screenshot of your cricket's personality, showing that the cricket eats more than average, doesn't sing much, moves about an average amount, and is more active late in the day

Screenshot showing research results, particularly movement at different times of day, indicating that the cricket in question moves around later in the day than normal