The Southern Oak Bush Cricket – new to Devon

One of my lesser known roles is as the county recorder in Devon for grasshoppers and cricket, collectively known as orthoptera. Every now and again I get an email from the Devon Biological Records Centre asking me to identify or confirm the identification of an orthoptera from a photograph.

A couple of weeks I was forwarded an email from a man, Stan Williams from Derby who had been on holiday in the south of Devon. He had photographed a bush cricket and had spent some time ‘googling’ it and had concluded it was a Southern Oak Bush Cricket. He had contacted the Record Centre as he thought they might be interested.

This is a very interesting record and as a result I wanted to confirm the identification with the Orthoptera National Scheme co-ordinator Peter Sutton. He has now got back to me and is happy with the ID.

It is an interesting record because the Southern Oak Bush Cricket (Meconema meridionale) is a newly naturalised species in the UK, first arriving in Thames Ditton in Surrey in September 2001. It is now spreading throughout southern Britain.

Stan Williams’ record is the first record for Devon that I have received. He found it on his car in the car park opposite St Mary’s Church, on Church End Road, in Kingskerswell during the week commencing the 17th October. He had previously visited Stover Country Park but he doesn’t think it was on his car when he left.

southern-oak-bush-cricket
Mr Williams has kindly allowed me to use his photograph. It is a male, it has a distinctive colour and classic brown yellow marking on its back. The key feature however is that it has tiny short wings.

oak-bush-cricketHere is a photo of the Oak Bush Cricket (Meconema thalassinum), also a male – which common in the UK – note it has a similar colour and markings but it is fully winged.

Thank you Stan for having the foresight to photograph the species and send the record in. As a result Devon has a new species of bush cricket and next year we will have to see if we can find any more.

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