Sue M writes:
For about the last 10 years, I’ve been observing the speckled bush crickets* that live in my very ordinary garden in Witney. Each year I learn something different about them…
The tiny nymphs appear in May, usually on Welsh poppy leaves for some reason, and get bigger as time goes by, shedding their skins as they go from instar to instar, although I have only seen that happen once. By this time of year they are plump and fully grown, and I can tell where they are by wandering round the garden with my bat detector. The short clicks that they make are too high pitched for us to hear, but can be picked up with a bat detector set at about 40 kHz. Unusually, the females also send a softer answering click to the males.
One evening I decided to look a bit further afield, and walked down the road, pointing the bat detector at roadside vegetation. I quickly discovered that I’m not the only person with crickets in their garden. I’d be interested to hear how many of you also have crickets in your gardens – please do let me know.
On recent walks we have also seen – and heard – dark bush crickets and Roesel’s bush crickets. A couple of Sundays ago we found twenty or so Roesel’s within half a mile, sunning themselves on leaves by a hedge at the side of a corn field. Crickets seem to like rank vegetation, which might explain why I get them in my garden!
* Other crickets are available, of course. I get the odd oak bush cricket as well, but mostly speckled. The speckles aren’t obvious in the adults, but look at a nymph through a hand lens and it’s clear how they got their name.