Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A visitor to my table

Last night an Illawarra Raspy Cricket (Apotrechus illawarra) appeared in my kitchen. No questions asked, and no excuses given.

I set it out on my 1970s style Laminex table - which explains the funny patterns in the background.This creature has wonderful antennae, approx 5 inches (approx 125mm) long. Very fine antennae indeed. It also has an extremely powerful set of pincers, as jaws. See the story of the Cricket vs the Spider below. There was no way I was going to allow it to get a grip of my fingers.
They have very powerful back legs, but although shaped superficially like a Grass Hopper, I have only ever seen them crawl about, not jump. They seem to use their very strong, grasping front legs to assist them in climbing, which is seemingly how this Cricket arrived in my kitchen. These creatures are known locally as "Tree Crickets", because of their prodigious climbing ability, even thought they dwell in burrows in the ground during the day.

When I first moved to Robertson, I was camping in a large shed, and I vividly remember one of these creatures climbing across the roof rafters above my bed - until the creature lost its upside-down grip - and fell straight on top of me. I have always been wary of them since that incident.

I know someone who was keeping Funnel-web Spiders (legitimately - for research purposes). He found one of these Crickets, and thought to feed it to a Funnel-web. In the morning there was no spider in the container, but the Cricket was still there. So, obviously those powerful jaws are very effective. That is a pretty impressive story, I think - but the person concerned is very authoritative, so I believe it totally.

"Gaye from the Hunter" has written about a similar sized Cricket, in its winged stage. Apparently hers was a "Striped Raspy Cricket". Her report is very thorough, with excellent close-up photography. Apparently all Illawarra Raspy Crickets are flightless (unlike the related species which Gaye wrote about). Both Gaye's creature, and mine are in the same family (Gryllacrididae), but they are in different genera (hence the difference of one being flightless, and the other having a strong set of wings).


Gaye from the Hunter said...

hello Denis,

what a fabulous creature, and it brings back beaut memories of my first sighting of my local raspy cricket at Christmas last year.

How fascinating that your's is flightless !! Late last summer I also found a small nymph in my kitchen and got a picture. I then also found an adult female at night and was amazed by the length of the ovipositor (about 35mm).

What a handsome visitor to your kitchen.

Oh, and thank you for linking my cricket entry.

I will be very interested if you also happen to find a female Illawarra Raspy Cricket.


Denis Wilson said...

Hi Gaye,

I have seen females (in the past) and thought they were really scary. When I first saw one with the long ovipositor, I thought it was perhaps a "stinger".

Pound for pound (ounce for ounce) they are pretty formidable insects.


Miss Eagle said...

Now, Denis, you know I am not well up in knowledge of insects - but I just want to say I love the colour co-ordination of the brownie coppery cricket with brownie, coppery veins of the laminex. Be-yoot-ee-ful!

Blessings and bliss

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Miss Eagle.

I had already confessed to owning a 1970s style Laminex table. I felt I had to explain all those funny brown lines. You are right, they do colour-coordinate.

I am not sure that I chose to place the Cricket there for that reason, or whether it was just a clear space to place it, in case it decided to head for the hills. In fact it was very placid, and did not move much at all.

I then picked it up (on a flat knife blade) and carried it outside (safely - for all concerned).