This amazing little creature has eluded me for so long.
I knew it to be a Mole Cricket. Just one of those things that has stuck in my mind from looking through nature books as a child. I found this one recently as I was emptying out a container garden. I’ve come across Sandgropers before – and one recently actually – but this is different in the softness of its appearance in contrast to the more plated and narrow appearance of a sandgroper.
This mole cricket captivated me – more so than it did to the Little Fellas. I was intrigued by its plump abdomen and though it doesn’t quite show it in the photo, it had an almost silky or satin-like quality to it. Soft and plump. To be honest, if I was starving (not like Gran starving, but really starving) this little guy would be a goner. If I was ever going to eat another insect (yes, I’ve eaten insects before) – this would be high on the gustation list.
What a marvel to investigate into this and find that it seems to be a native species of Gryllotalpa pluvialis. There are of course various introduced species in Australia, but these so far seem to be localised to at least the Eastern coast and Perth.
I was delighted to discover also that this is the creature that makes some of the loudest calls in the garden, and which I had always thought was a frog. Not so. Listening to the call closely it does of course sound like a grasshopper or cricket – I just never expected such a sound to be coming from what appeared to be under the ground. I thought perhaps a kind of burrowing frog.
I found an incredible post from Brisbane Insects which goes into a lot of depth on how the males create the sound through rubbing their forewings together in a technique called stridulation. Even more impressive is they construct burrows where they can anchor themselves in and amplify the sound they make. Very impressive.
The WA Museum also has a page on Mole Crickets which has led me to believe that the one in our backyard is a native species of the Swan Coastal Plain and is likely to be an immature female given the shorter wings still to develop and more noticeably the smaller forearms. Males having larger forearms with which to create their impressive songs.
Not surprisingly, Mole Crickets are also related to another insect we sometimes see and hear in the garden which I also like the call of, the Katydid. A large grasshopper-like insect that also makes a loud call and creates a bit of atmosphere to the garden.