On my way home from work yesterday I stopped at Dunsford Woods in the Teign Valley (managed by the Devon Wildlife Trust and owned by the National Trust) to see if I could locate the population of wood crickets that live there. In a voluntary capacity I am the Devon County Recorder for Orthoperta – that is grasshoppers, crickets and bush crickets.
Wood crickets are native animals and are really rather rare in the UK – if you want to know more about them click here where you will also find a couple of sound files where you can hear their calls – a distinctive thing about most of our orthoptera.
I am pleased to say that I heard around 20 calling males, saw a couple of adults and a nymph. I didn’t manage to take any photographs even though I took my camera and struggled up the very steep south facing woodland edge slopes where they live! However I did get some pictures of the Dunsford wood crickets in September 2008 so I will share those instead.
Wood crickets are black and around 1cm long – they tend to live in woodland glades in deep leaf litter
This is a male – their wings cover about half of the abdomen – their hind wings are absent and as a result they cannot fly. Females have even smaller wings and possess a long ovipositor which extends beyond the two cerci (pointed extensions which can be seen on the rear end of the male above).
Wood crickets feed on dead leaves and their associated fungi
Here is a close up of a wood cricket face
Here is the national distribution – only three main population centres – South Devon, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight
I am currently in the process of setting up a website on Devon’s orthoptera which will give information on all of our species including their distributions. Hopefully I will get that project up and running by the end of the year. Earlier in the year I blogged about our other species of cricket – the scaly cricket which is much, much rarer and lives on the beach at Branscombe – see here for that story.