Posted by: Ross Gardner | April 27, 2020

Cutie, or not cutie, that is the question.

It is probably safe to suggest that ‘cute’ (and sorry for the terrible punning in the title) is not an adjective easily afforded to insects.  One might however, get away with it in the case of this little thing……

Dark Bush-cricket (1st instar) (scaled)

It is a Dark Bush-cricket (Pholidoptera griseoaptera) nymph.  I photographed it yesterday and given that it measured half a centimetre or so, it was not too long – I would imagine – from the egg.  That egg would have been laid some time before the previous autumn.  The female brandishes a long, sabre-shaped ovipositor which she uses to insert her eggs into the crevices in bark or directly into suffiently receptive soft wood.

Much of any perceived cuteness perhaps stems from the ‘incomplete metamorphosis’ undertaken by the Orthoptera (grasshoppers and crickets).  In common with the likes of dragonflies, true bugs and others, they do not pupate as such insects as butterflies, bees or flies do.  They will therefore not undergo that profound change of form associated with the so-called ‘complete metamorphosis’, from larva, via pupa to adult.  Thus, the bush-cricket that hatches from the egg essentially emerges as a miniature version of the adult it will become.  This is less obvious with a dragonfly, given that it must develop from an aquatic nymph into a terrestrial adult, demanding certain fundamental life-style changes, but the process is nevertheless the same.  The incomplete metamorhosis takes place over a series of moults, or instars, as the insect matures.  The above little creature can expect to grow through half a dozen instars (the number perhaps being more or less depending on species), but not until July, if it manages to keep out of trouble, will it have grown into something like this, perhaps a couple of centimetres long and active predator of small invertabrates as well as a devourer of plants……

Pholidoptera griseoaptera

Dark Bush-cricket (Pholidoptera griseoaptera) – male.


Responses

  1. Neat. Had a few in the garden this last month, along with some field grasshopper nymphs

    • Cheers Neil. Hope you enjoyed the terrible pun.


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