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Crickets and grasshoppers

Posted: Saturday 11th July 2015 by Alice Hunter

Ben AndrewBen Andrew

The warm summer weather has brought the crickets and grasshoppers to our meadows. Alice Hunter explores the world of these fascinating insects.

For me, one of the iconic sounds of summer is the chirp of crickets and grasshoppers on warm evenings. Here in the UK we have over twenty five native species plus a few others that have crept in over the years. In fact it is mainly the males that make a noise, the females can too but tend to stay quieter.

one of the iconic sounds of summer is the chirp of crickets and grasshoppers on warm evenings

So what is this noise I’m talking about? The technical name for it is stridulation. Both crickets and grasshoppers stridulate but they do so in different ways: grasshoppers rub their legs against their wings while crickets rub their wings together. Both create a rasping noise similar to drawing a hard object over the teeth of a comb.

Interestingly, one of the more common species, the oak bush cricket doesn’t stridulate. Instead, the males stamp their feet on a leaf to attract a mate!

The main difference between a cricket and a grasshopper is the length of their antennae. Crickets’ antennae tend to be much longer which grasshoppers have short antennae. Grasshoppers mostly eat grass as their name suggests. Crickets do eat animal matter as well and are partial to the odd aphid so gardeners, be glad if you find them on your roses, they are just helping out!

Nearly all crickets and grasshoppers can fly too, although the meadow grasshopper is an exception as it only has tiny vestigial wings.
Most crickets are crepuscular; this means that they come out at dusk. To get a good look at one you can try putting out a sheet near some trees or bushes and shining a bright light on it – many species will come to light and you might find some interesting moths at the same time!

Grasshoppers on the other hand are more active during the day and in some areas you will find that walking through long grass you can push up a wave of them jumping in front of you. To get a closer look at them, try sweeping a fine net through the grass to see what you can find.

- Alice Hunter, August 2015

Grasshoppers and crickets on our reserves

Hertfordshire and Middlesex has some great spots for seeing and hearing grasshoppers and crickets. Here are three of the best:

Aldbury Nowers
Blagrove Common
Hexton Chalk Pit

Get in touch

We're always keen to hear about your grasshopper and cricket sightings. The sightings are recorded by the Herts Environmental Records Centre (HERC) which manages information on habitats, species and sites across the county.To tell us what you've seen and where, contact Ian Clarle, HERC Records Centre Manager, at - ian.carle@hmwt.org

Read Alice Hunter's latest blog entries.

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