Roesel’s Bush-cricket in Devon

Prior to 1980 Roesel’s Bush-cricket had a restricted distribution in the UK being found in coastal grasslands from Kent to the Humber. After 1980 the species began a dramatic range expansion north and west.

The species was finally recorded in Devon in 2014 but is colonisation of the county has been slow.

Below is a list of all the records of Roesel’s Bush-cricket in Devon, I’m sure it is an under-estimate and I am keen to receive further records if you have seen it in Devon.

SpeciesDateLocationGrid ReferenceRecorderNumberComments
Metrioptera roeselii08/08/2014Flockmill, ReweSS960007Karim Vahed1f. diluta
Metrioptera roeselii29/07/2017Trinity Hall Nature Reserve, AxminsterSY308957Alex WorsleyMultiple 
Metrioptera roeselii06/07/2018Dawlish WarrenSX9878Philip Chambers1f. diluta
Metrioptera roeselii21/08/2019Flockmill, ReweSS960007Gabriel Vahed1Male
Metrioptera roeselii26/08/2019A3052, WestonSY173907Kevin Rylands1 
Metrioptera roeselii01/09/2019Seaton MarshesSY2591Dave SmallshireMultiple 
Metrioptera roeselii25/06/2020Ross Meadow, Fingle WoodsSX795888Tom Williams1 
Metrioptera roeselii21/07/2020Axmouth – Lyme Regis CliffsSY273896John WaltersMultiple 
Metrioptera roeselii08/08/2020Halsden Farm, ExmouthSX9982Will Scott1 
Metrioptera roeselii09/08/2020Exwick, Exe ValleySX9093Will Scott1 
Metrioptera roeselii03/08/2021Beer meadowSY213894Christopher HodgsonMultiple 
This is a photo of the first record – found by Professor Karim Vahed at the Flockmill in Rewe, near Exeter. This is a ‘macropterous’ (f. diluta) individual i.e. it has long wings which enables it to fly and therefore disperse and colonise new areas. (Photo Karim Vahed)
Here is a male (non macropterous, known as brachypterous) individual, photographed at the same site in 2017 and found by Karim’s son Gabriel. This discovery would imply that a founder colony was formed in 2014 and persisted to 2017. The green strip on the pronotum and spots on the side of the thorax are diagnostic. (Photo Karim Vahed.)
Here is another male, this time photographed at Ross Meadow in Fingle Woods on Dartmoor in 2020. (Photo Tom Williams)

To date this year I have received one record from a new site at Beer, found by Christopher Hodgson. The species favours long unkempt grass and can be quite difficult to spot as individuals skulk. However Roesel’s Bush-crickets have a very distinctive song which is audible to those with good hearing. I use a bat detector to pick up the call now I’m older!

Follow this link to the website of Orthoptera UK and you can play a sound clip to hear how distinctive the song is. The individuals which the long wings stridulate and produce a loud song which to me sounds like standing under a high voltage electric pylon in the rain!

Now is the time to go out and find Roesel’s Bush-crickets. Majority of the Devon records are to the east of Exeter. On a hot sunny day see if you can see or hear any…. and if you do, please let me know as I’m the County Recorder for Devon for Orthoptera.

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