Posted by: Ross Gardner | September 9, 2018

Bush-crickets and Books

I hope you will forgive me the indulgence of staying with the subject of my last post for a bit longer so as to allow me to sing the not inconsiderable praises of one of my all-time favourite creatures.

It is not back to the New Forest I take you though, but to that special part of my home patch which I wrote of a few weeks before, the place I affectionately call ‘The Downs’, a wonderful area of wildlife habitat existing almost cheek by jowl with the urban sprawl of South Essex.  The creature in question is Britain’s largest species of Orthoptera (crickets and grasshoppers).  Muscling in with a length of 50mm or more and large enough to deliver a painful bite if not handled carefully is the undeniably impressive Great Green Bush-cricket (Tettigonia viridissima).  I had heard them on several occasions on my recent trip to the New Forest and Dorset and was delighted to finally lay eyes on one on my own doorstep……

Great Green Bush-cricket 5 (scaled)

Great Green Bush-cricket (Tettigonia viridissima)

They are not a particularly common insect in the UK, being restricted to the southern reaches of England and the extreme south of Wales and decidedly local within their distribution.  Where they do occur they may do so in number, a state if affairs which I am happy to say is the case over The Downs.  Even so – and despite a loud, far-carrying ‘song’ (that has been likened to the sound of a sewing-machine) – they can be surprising hard to locate.  Their song can be frustratingly ventriloquial and they are superbly camouflaged for a life clambering among the brambles and bracken.  It is always a treat to reacquaint myself with them and well worth a few thorn scratches on bare legs in doing so.

While I’m here, a quick note as regards a talk I am giving on my book ‘The Greater World of Little Things‘ for the Essex Wildlife Trust, Maldon and South Woodham Ferrers group on 12th September.  Click here for details.  If you happen to live near by it would be great to see you there.

Front cover WLT

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