Oak Bush-cricket

Meconema thalassinum – This is a male with long curved cerci. It is around 12-17 mm (5/8 in) long, excluding the long antennae. It is fully winged, but this cricket is a silent one and has no song. It was attracted to the light of my moth trap and the 2nd I have seen in the past 3 years.

Oak Bush-cricket Meconema thalassinum male

Counting To Ten

Meadow Grasshopper (Chorthippus parallelus) – One … two … three … This little grasshopper looks like he is patiently counting on his tiny tarsi … or trying to work out a complex mathematical conundrum. Either way … he is in a world of his own. Double-click on image to enlarge.

Meadow Grasshopper Chorthippus parallelus

© Peter Hillman ♦ 30th May 2020 ♦ Local field, South Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200

I Am The Grass

Long Winged Cone-head - Conocephalus discolor female

This bush-cricket is the female Long Winged Cone-head Conocephalus discolor, and she so enjoyed playing hide-and-seek with me in the long grasses of the local meadow back in the summer. It was kind of frustrating for me after a while for every time I tried to get her better side she would swivel around the grass stalk so all I got was the shot above. I couldn’t believe how even her tiny feet and knees (although not technically called knees) closely mimicked the form and colour of the little blemishes on the blade of grass she was gripping so tightly and was hiding behind.

Long Winged Cone-head - Conocephalus discolor female

In the end, with some perseverance, I did manage to get her good side as she tired of the game.

Long Winged Cone-head - Conocephalus discolor female

Please double click for a closer look of her good side, or any side for that matter.

August 2017, Staffordshire, England.

Oak Bush-cricket Meconema thalassinum

Oak Bush-cricket Meconema thalassinum

Well, this was quite an unexpected visitor to my garden last night. These crickets are attracted to light, apparently, and this one was on my shed. This is a male with its long curved cerci, a bit like an earwigs. It has a notable yellowish stripe along its back with a reddish tinge to it. Both sexes are fully winged. There is no song from this bush-cricket. Body length 12 to 17mm. Ovipositor length 9mm.

Oak Bush-cricket Meconema thalassinum

The adults are seen July to November, and are found in woodland, hedgerows and gardens. Common and widespread in the south, Wales and the Midlands, scarcer further north.

Oak Bush-cricket Meconema thalassinum

Oak Bush-cricket Meconema thalassinum

Rear garden, Staffordshire, England. July 2017.


Grey Bush-cricket

Platycleis albopunctata

The Grey Bush-cricket’s body colour is mainly grey to light brown, although the top of the head and thorax maybe brown or green. The underside is usually a pale yellow or green. The hind femora normally have a dark ‘fish-bone’ pattern. Both sexes are fully winged. Females have a black and long, upturned ovipositor. The song consists of a short buzzing sound. Body length 20 to 30mm. Ovipositor length 10mm.

They are omnivorous.

Seen in July to October. A coastal species found on rough vegetation and coarse grass, on sand dunes, shingle banks, cliffs and low scrub. Mainly the coasts of southern England, and southern and western Wales.

Photographs of the Grey Bush-cricket (Platycleis albopunctata) taken August 2015, Daddyhole Plain, Torquay, Devon. © Pete Hillman 2015. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.

Long-winged Conehead

Conocephalus discolor

This bush-cricket is normally green with brown wings and a brown stripe on the head and pronotum. Both sexes are fully winged, and usually the wings extend beyond the abdomen tip. The ovipositor is long and straight, compared to the shorter and strongly curved ovipositor of the very similar Short-winged Conehead (Conocephalus dorsalis),  which has wings that only cover half of the abdomen which makes this species incapable of flight. The song is a quiet, high-pitched  hiss. Body length 14 to 22mm. Ovipositor 9 to 13mm.

They are omnivorous, but mainly feed on plant material.

Seen July to October. Found in rough grassland and reed-beds, especially near rivers and marshes. Widespread in southern Britain, although once considered rare it was placed on the Red Data List, it has spread as far north as Wales and the Midlands.

Photographs taken of the Long-winged Conehead (Conocephalus discolor) in July 2015, local field, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2015. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.

Slender Groundhopper

Tetrix subulata

Another groundhopper species which I discovered at the same pond as the Common Groundhopper (Tetrix undulata). There are only three species of groundhopper to be found in Britain, the other being Cepero’s Groundhopper (Tetrix ceperoi), which is rarer and found mainly along the south coast of England and Wales.

This is a small relative of the grasshoppers with colour ranges from pale brown, often with a pinkish tinge, to grey and black. It has a wide-shouldered pronotum which has a slight keel and usually reaches well beyond the tip of the abdomen. The wings extend beyond the pronotum, and they are fully capable of flight. Adults can also swim. Length 9 to 14mm. 

It feeds on low vegetation like algae, mosses and lichens.

Nymphs appear from May to July, and adults appear by August. Found in damp environments near ponds and in shaded, muddy locations. Fairly frequent in the south of Britain and the Midlands.

Photographs taken of the Slender Groundhopper (Tetrix subulata) in August 2015, local pond, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2015. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.

Common Groundhopper

Tetrix undulata

This is quite a small groundhopper which is from the order Orthoptera, the Grasshoppers and Crickets. Groundhoppers have their own family within this order called Tetrigidae. I came across this and many others on the damp margins of a local pond.

This is a small relative of the grasshoppers and is often overlooked it is so small. Apart from its small size, it is also well armoured with an extended pronotum which does not reach beyond the tip of the abdomen. The pronotum also has wide shoulders with a prominent keel and it often has dark spots on either side. The colour ranges from pale mottled brown to black, depending on its surroundings. It has very short wings which do not go beyond the pronotum, but it can fly. It can also swim. Length 8 to 11mm.

It feeds on low vegetation like mosses and lichens.

It is active all year round. Found in both dry and wet habitats, preferably in open habitats with bare ground and short vegetation. Common and widespread throughout.

Photographs taken of Common Groundhopper (Tetrix undulata) in August 2015, local pond, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2015. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.

Common Field Grasshopper

Chorthippus brunneus

The Common Field Grasshopper is usually brown, but green and other colour forms exist. Sharply angled keels on the top of the thorax and dense hair below. The wings stretch well beyond the tip of the abdomen, and enable them to fly some distance. The upper side of the tip of the abdomen is usually reddish, especially in males. Length 15 to 25mm. The song is a short sequence of chirps, similar to time-signal pips.

It feeds on low vegetation, but mainly grasses.

Seen June to October. It occurs mainly on dry grassland and meadows. It flies more readily than most grasshoppers, and it is also seen on mown lawns. Widespread and common.

Photographs taken August 2015, local fields, Staffordshire.

Meadow Grasshopper

Chorthippus parallelus

I have come across the Meadow Grasshopper quite often in my local fields. They are quite difficult to photograph as they tend to swivel around the grass stalk they are on everytime you get close to them. Its almost as if they are playing hide and seek with you!

This grasshopper is mainly green in colour, but can be either green or brown, or even pink or purple. The keels are almost straight on the thorax. A distinctive feature is that both males and females have very short wings (although males are somewhat longer), have no hindwings, and are flightless. The forewings have a bulge on the front lower edge. The knees are usually dark. A fully winged form does occur called (f. explicatus). Length 16 to 23mm. Its song is redolent of hot summer days, bursts of rough rasping sounds lasting in two to three second bursts.

It is strictly vegetarian, eating grass and other greenery.

It is mainly seen June to October. Found in all kinds of grassy places, but has a preference for damp meadows. One of the commonest and most familiar of the grasshoppers. Widespread.

Photographs taken July & August 2015, local fields, Staffordshire.

Roesel’s Bush-cricket

Metrioptera roeselii

A squat and bulky bush cricket, which is greenish brown in colour A very distinguishing feature is the white or pale green margin on the pronotum flaps. There are also pale yellowish spots just behind the pronotum on each side of the thorax. The wings are short on both sexes and reach about halfway along the body, and they are flightless, although during hot summers fully winged forms are able to fly. The ovipositor is short and upcurved. The song is fairly unusual, a uniform high-pitched buzzing that continues for long periods, not unlike that of a dentist’s drill. Length 14 to 25mm. Ovipositor 6mm.

They are omnivorous, but mainly feed on plant material.

Seen June to November. It prefers tall, lush grassland which is dry to damp, but most often in association with river valleys. Also found in brown field sites in urban areas, and arable land. It is mainly a southern and coastal species, where its is widespread and abundant, although it has gradually spread inland and northwards.

Photographs taken  July 2015, local field, Staffordshire.

Speckled Bush-cricket

Leptophyes punctatissima

This is a flightless green cricket which is covered in tiny dark speckles, which is where it gets its name from. It has a pale yellow line running  from each eye towards the abdomen, and a broad brown line running down the centre of its back, although immature Speckled Bush-crickets have a thin pale yellow line. The males have small brown flightless wings, whilst the female has but two tiny flaps. The female has a sickle-shaped ovipositor. Its scratchy call is so quiet it can hardly be heard by humans. Length 10 to 20mm.

They feed on a wide range of vegetation.

Seen July to November. Found resting on vegetation like nettles or brambles in hedgerows or woodland margins, and sometimes gardens. Common andwidespread in the south of England and Wales, although it often goes unnoticed due to its excellent camouflage.

All photographs taken June 2014, local woodland path, Staffordshire.