…is a species of weta once found throughout New Zealand but is now only found on Little Barrier Island. Like most giant wetas this species is a nocturnal herbivore and has a diet of leaves, fungi and small invertebrates. But unlike other wetas this species is not social and pretty passive, despite its genus name meaning ‘terrible grasshopper’. The only thing terrible about them is their weight, as they are the heaviest of all giant wetas with one specimen reported weighing 71g that’s 3x heavier than a house mouse!
… are rarely encountered relatives of crickets, and are obligate inquilines (animals that live commensally in the nest, burrow, or dwelling place of an animal of another species) within ant nests. They are very small, wingless, and flattened, therefore resembling small cockroach nymphs. There are a few genera, containing fewer than 100 species. Ant Crickets are yellow, brown, or nearly black in color. They do not produce sound, and lack both wings and tympanal organs (“ears”) on the front tibia…
Pygmy mole crickets are skilled jumpers on land and amazingly on water, too. New research shows how their back legs act like spring-loaded paddles to propel them from the surface of a pond.
Researcher Malcolm Burrows, of the University of Cambridge, explained that water can be a deadly trap for many small insects.
“Water grabs and holds an insect, offering it as an appetizing snack for an alert fish. Pygmy mole crickets turn the stickiness of water to their advantage and use this property to enable jumping,” Burrows said in a statement.
He collected samples of the species (Xya capensis) from a pond in South Africa and then recorded the insects showing off their jumping skills with a high-speed camera. From watching the footage in slow motion, Burrows saw that the insects have oarlike paddles on their legs that cut through the surface, fan out and send a ball of water downward as their bodies fly into the air…
The giant wetas are the world’s heaviest insects. The heaviest ever recorded was a female that weighed 71g (2.5oz). That’s three times the weight of an average house mouse. In fact, wetas are the insect equivalent of mice. They evolved in the small rodent niche because in New Zealand there were no mice to compete with and no nocturnal mammalian predators to hunt them.
A lesson for crickets wanting to sing like Barry White: chill out. Like most of their relatives, South Indian tree crickets (Oecanthus henryi) woo mates by rubbing their wings together, causing them to vibrate and produce sound much like a guitar string. But these bugs, which have especially long and transparent wings, are also slaves to the weather. When it gets cold out, tree cricket chirps drop in frequency by as much as an octave.
To find out why, researchers employed lasers capable of detecting slight vibrations to measure how the wings of tree crickets buzzed during these calls. The appendages, it turns out, vibrate at several distinct frequencies—rather than just one like most crickets—making them versatile singers, the group reports online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. And when the weather turns chilly, the insects likely can’t beat their wings as fast, meaning that they also can’t hit those high notes. So while they can sing soul, opera may be out of the picture.
(via: Science NOW) (photo: David Cappaert/Michigan State Univ.)
j-barnes: European Mole Cricket - Gryllotalpa gryllotalpa
The scientific name is derived from the Latin ‘gryllus’ meaning a cricket and ‘talpa’ meaning a mole which is descriptive because of the fine dense fur by which it is covered and because of the mole-like forelegs adapted for digging.
The mole cricket occurs throughout Europe as far as western Asia and northern Africa and has been introduced to eastern United States. In the UK it used to be wide spread across southern counties but its range has severely contracted and it may now be extinct. There have only been 5 sightings of mole crickets in Britain since 1970 with the last recorded sighting in 2005.
The Wart-biter cricket derives its name from the age-old practice by Swedish peasants of using the cricket to bite warts from the skin. Its Latin name Decticus verrucivorus comes from the Latin ‘verruca’ meaning ‘wart’, and ‘vorous’ meaning ‘to devour’. For those hoping for a novel cure for their pesky warts, you may be disappointed to learn that it appears that this treatment is not particularly effective!
It’s hard enough having to spread yourself thinly during your normal daily activities – work, sustenance, childcare, rest, the list goes on. Luckily for us monogamous types, our efforts in the bedroom are most often directed towards one individual. Imagine, though, the dilemma of having to divide your reproductive resources between many partners. If you were a male seed beetle (Callosobruchus maculatus), you might face this very problem. You would have a limited supply of ejaculate, numerous females of differing ages and reproductive states, lots of rival males, and about a week to live. To fulfil your evolutionary potential and achieve reproductive success you need to prioritise your sexual encounters – do you allocate a little of your seed to several different females, which may offer fairly decent returns, or do you use up all your sperm on one ripe, virgin female in the hope of fertilising each one of her hundreds of eggs?
Sperm is not a limitless resource. Males often have to use it economically to maximise their lifetime reproductive success. In many insects the situation is complex because females store sperm internally from several different mates, much of which is surplus to requirement, so not all males that achieve copulation can be guaranteed paternity. However, males can sometimes bolster their chances, by adopting certain strategies to overcome this sperm competition.
As a promiscuous insect it is essential to assess your surroundings. For example, if you were a male cricket (Gryllus veletis) you might want to allocate lots of sperm when copulating if there is another male waiting his turn with the female, in attempt to father a greater share of the resultant clutch than he does. If there are ten rival males around, you’d probably be better holding onto your ejaculate for now and saving your sperm for other, less competitive situations…
There are about 70 species of weta, they are large brown wingless insect (family Stenopelmatidae) related to the grasshoppers. This species of weta, also known as the Wetapunga from the Maori language, is native to New Zealand. Adults can measure up to 4 inches/10cm long without including the antenna and legs, and pregnant females can weigh over 2.5 ounces/70 grams, making them the heaviest insects in the world. Giant weta are flightless and have survived on New Zealand since prehistoric times due to the absence of land mammals. The introduction of rats, cats, stoats and other mammals onto New Zealand have reduced the Giant weta populations to Little Barrier Island. The Giant weta is too heavy to jump but when threatened, raise their spiny hind limbs into the air. These nocturnal insects feed on plants and fungi.
Adventurer Mark Moffett has found the world’s biggest insect - which is so huge it can eat carrots. The former park ranger discovered the giant weta up a tree and his real life Bugs Bunny has now been declared the largest ever found. He came across the cricket-like creature, which has a wing span of seven inches, after two days of searching on a tiny island. The creepy crawly is only found on Little Barrier Island, in New Zealand. The species was wiped off the mainland by rats accidentally introduced by Europeans.
Jerusalem crickets of the genus Stenopelmatus (Greek for “narrow foot”)bare found in a variety of habitats throughout much of western North and Central America.
They have been dubbed Child of the Earth or Niña del la Tierra in Spanish. The Navajo thought them deadly poisonous and called them “wó se ts´inii,’ or the “skull insect” or “bone neck beetle.” Their powerful jaws are used for digging and chewing roots. Jerusalem crickets can bite with considerable force if handled, but are not poisonous in any way. In California, JCs are known as potato bugs due to their predilection for nibbling on potatoes and other crops in direct contact with the soil. Extensive damage to crops and gardens by these insects is rare. They also occasionally scavenge dead animal matter and may engage in cannibalism. The name “Jerusalem cricket” is believed to have originated in the 19th century when ‘Jerusalem’ was a commonly used as an expletive.
Researchers placed faux fireflies (a flashing green LED) next to either tasty crickets or a toxic firefly species (Ellychnia corrusca), and then released a jumping spider. Though the spiders initially attacked both insects, those that went after the fireflies quickly learned to avoid the flashing LED. In the wild, both palatable and unpalatable firefly species often share the same habitat, so if a spider or other predator gets a bad taste in its mouth, it will begin to shun all flashing lights, to the benefit of both species.