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Native Crickets & Grasshoppers.

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Mick View Drop Down
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    Posted: 17 Aug 2005 at 9:44pm
Just wondering if anyone about on here - besides being into herptiles - might, like me, also be into our native orthopterans, by which i mainly mean grasshoppers & crickets, especially bush-crickets. A few species of our bush-crickets, like Long-Winged Coneheads & Roesel's, are nowadays seriously expanding their distributions. Those two species are now in at least twice as many counties as they were just a few years ago! Overall, it's pretty exciting times to be into our orthoptera,..if anyone else here is. I love the songful little creatures & couldn't possibly imagine a summer without hearing them.    
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-LAF View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote -LAF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Aug 2005 at 11:39am
Funny you should say that Mick, the missus sent me a picture of a cricket from Kent the other day that looked just like an early instar long-wing cone-head (female with much straighter ovopositor than the species I am familiar with). I told her to send it in to the county recorder in case it was. The picture is here:



Don't suppose you've got a more confident ID you could give? I'm quite fascinated by the orthoptera but my knowledge is seriously limited. Always try and get pictures when I see new ones though!

Regards, Lee.

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Lee Fairclough
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Suzi View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Suzi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Aug 2005 at 12:14pm

Been walking on the south coast path near Branscombe today - very hot - lots of interesting flowers, butterflies and a large dark bush cricket. I get these in my garden and I was amazed to hear them calling in November. I have several types of grasshopper live in the garden but no idea on what they are!

I get other crickets as well but probably like many people am a bit poor on ID. Nice to go for a walk with my son who is like Mick and interested in them AND good on ID.

 

Suz
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Aug 2005 at 6:32pm

Thanks guys, three replies already, excellent! As with herptiles, i'm always still learning (even at 40!) & wouldn't ever profess to being any more than an amateur, & just like yourself, Caleb, i'm certainly no expert on our orthopterans but over about the last 8y'rs i've just become more & more fascinated by them. I think it was from several of our herptiles including these fair sized - & so relatively easy to study - bugs in their diets that my interest in them just blossomed. We've hardly got the diversity of them that continental europe enjoys (yet!) but many people would still be quite surprised to learn the amount of species we have got though, which includes a few biggies, our largest - & noisiest! - being the Great Green Bush-Cricket (over 2"long, & when basking with limbs stretched about 3.25"long!). Unfortunately, Caleb, the majority of grasshopper & cricket species (orthoptera also including ground hoppers, locusts, stick-insects, cockroaches & earwigs) in the UK are presently in & around the south & stretching about a third to half way up our east & west coasts. Of the hopping variety of orthopterans in Co. Durham, my treasured copy of GRASSHOPPERS & ALLIED INSECTS of Great Britain & Ireland (Harley Books / order ISBN 0-946589-36-4) reveals species of those to be found there are: Common Green Grasshopper; Field Grasshopper; Meadow Grasshopper; Mottled Grasshopper, & one of the mini type of grasshoppers, the Common Ground-hopper (which can hibernate, & even swim!). Another possibly still Co. Durham existing species is the alien House-Cricket. Take account though that, although i'd definately very highly recommend the above mentioned book, no book can quite keep pace with the present expanding distribution rate of a few of our orthopterans (nor new aliens). As for the calls of the UK's grasshoppers & crickets, i'm not sure of any websites with playable recordings of them on. But, like the title of that book, there's also a cheap, 30minute audio cassette you could order from any good book shop (or, probably on-line too) called, A Sound Guide to the Grasshoppers & Allied Insects of Great Britain & Ireland (again Harley Books / order ISBN 0 946589 22 4). I've got a cassette of it & it's pretty good, with 26 songful species recorded in various single, courtship & group situations.

LAF, that's a lovely close-up Conehead photo' your missus took. Glad you advised her to send the record in & hopefully she might get credited with a new grid referenced location find, especially seen as it's Short-Winged Conehead's that are known from Kent, & if - as i think - Long-Winged Conehead's are now also colonising there, then that's only relatively recently. Kent's anyhow an absolutely superb county for its variety of orthoptera. Long-Winged Conehead's have really expanded their range though, now even way inland to central England & the top tip of north Oxfordshire, where i am. I believe i'm down as having first discovered them here in Banbury, near & around our reservoir. I always send in records which i know, or suspect to be fresh finds. Without seeing a micro close-up of the cerci, or a side view of the ovipositor, i couldn't really say for sure which of our two native Conehead species your missus' one is (& i could be wrong but fairly sure i somewhere heard an alien 3rd species might've been discovered here!(?)). But anyway, your knowledge is hardly seriously limited, as your quite correct on what you said of female Conehead's egg-laying ovipositors. Whereas the Long-Winged Conehead ovipositor is nearly straight, the Short-Winged-Conehead ovipositor is upcurved. I'd say the pretty girl in the photo' is about 2/3rds grown. Stay Fascinated!

Suzi, where you were, or are, at Branscombe, there's no shortage of orthopteran variety there! Also, that's just a stone's throw from the UK's top two outstanding sites for orthoptera, namely Dorset & The New Forest. Dark Bush-Crickets are one of our longest annual survivors of grasshoppers & crickets. I myself in 2002 recorded Dark B-C nymphs out on april 5th &, believe it, or not, adults have been found alive into December! (Doubt capable of more than maybe a swan-song by then though!) Anyway, glad to hear your son's into orthoptera & is able to help you with identifying species. He's obviously a wise chap who appreciates the little things in life, & their songs! Why not look on the net, or borrow a book, or two of his & polish up on identifying for yourself?, although i'd have to say i often still have trouble positively visually identifying a few of our grasshoppers. Anyway, cheers all!      

   

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Suzi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Aug 2005 at 6:57pm

Mick

Thanks for the reply. I get several sorts of grasshoppers in the garden so will have to look more carefully and take some pix to perhaps get an ID.

I live in East Devon BTW. Branscombe is quite near to me. It's good some days to go walking in the hedged lanes and hear the many crickets calling.

Suz
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote administrator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Aug 2005 at 7:51pm
I hadn't realised there was so much to them.. I was kinda glad this year to hear them chirping away in the garden, always a good sign things are right in a wildlife garden me thinks and I love it in the field when they are everywhere to be seen, vivi lizards are usually not too far away.. I'm at the level of there are big ones and small ones and some have funny colours..I had better start taking more notice of them. Mick, is GRASSHOPPERS & ALLIED INSECTS a good place to start?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote herpetologic2 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Aug 2005 at 10:18am

 

Well eventually their chirping will disappear as we get older - we lose that part of our hearing - I remember walking round a site with a badger consultant a few years older than me - well 40 or 50 years older - I kept asking him can you hear all those crickets - answer NO

So I have a bat detector ready for the day when i can no longer hear the little critters.....

I have meadow grass hoppers on my lawn and speckled bush crickets on the runners this year

 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Peter Vaughan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Aug 2005 at 5:07pm
Two weeks ago, while on Magdalen Hill Down butterfly reserve near Winchester, I saw an insect I'd not come across before - which turned out to be Roesel's Bush-cricket.  That, and seeing a full grown Great Green Bush-cricket in Dorset, inspired me to try to identify the orthopterans on my local wet-heathland reserve.  I've so far found Long-winged Conehead bush crickets and Meadow Grasshoppers - no doubt there are other species there as well.  I'm using the FSC laminated sheet "Guide to British Grasshoppers and allied insects" - which is clear and simple.   I've also got "Grasshoppers" by VK Brown, one of the Naturalist's Handbooks series (ISBN 0 85546 277 9) which I've found full of interesting stuff on UK species and which also has an id section.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Suzi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Aug 2005 at 7:11pm

It's true about losing our ability to hear the crickets. My son will often point their chirping out to me and if I stop I can hear them but I'm seldom the one to hear them first.

I can recognise most inland birds by their song or calls and dread the day when I can no longer hear birdsong. Both my parents (77) can no longer hear warblers singing.

Suz
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Aug 2005 at 10:07am
Nice close-up study photo' there of a female Speckled Bush-Cricket, herpetologic2, & clearly showing all those speckles, which aren't obvious unless getting close-up like that. Along with the leaf tapping & mainly tree living Oak Bush-Cricket (alien Southern Oak B-C's now become UK resident as well), the flightless Speckled is one of our very few almost inaudible to the human ear species. However, if ones hearing is still good, then on a still day & carefully getting as close as herpetologic2's photo', it is still just about possible to hear a male Speckled's calls, as i've managed to do. This is our only bush-cricket species in which females can also call, although even more weakly so than the males. I've got Speckled's in my garden too & i'm glad to usually find there's a few more of the inconspicuous chaps about than i'd think. Like the Conehead's & maybe one, or two other bush-cricket species, Speckleds, - & their nymphs - from what i've seen, tend to almost always stick to keeping well clear of the ground, & so in a half wild left garden such as mine with good numbers of frogs & toads on the prowl, that's a wise'n'wary thing to do for insects that are both day & night active. In England & Wales, Speckled, Oak & Dark are our most common & widely distributed bush-crickets, but with those first two species usually requiring a bat detector to hear them, most people wouldn't know they're around. Some people also have difficulty hearing the high-pitched stridulating of Conehead species, whereas others, like myself, can thankfully hear them from ten yards away. But alas, no doubt bat detector time will eventually arrive for me as well. Meanwhile though, for this year there's still about two months of good ortoptera calling to go, & i'm gonna make the most of it.
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