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Thursday, April 10, 2003

ANIMAL TRACKER

Field cricket


* Japanese name: Enma korogi
* Scientific name: Teleogryllus emma
* Description: The field cricket is a black to dark-brown insect, about 25 mm long. Crickets are orthopterans, in the same group as grasshoppers. They have large heads and wings that are folded flat against the back, except when the cricket is calling, with its wings raised and rubbing together (as in the photo). They have long antennae and two hairy prongs sticking out the end of the abdomen. These prongs are called cerci and are used to detect movement. Females also have another structure protruding from the abdomen called an ovipositor, which is used to lay eggs. Like all orthopterans, the hind legs of field crickets are very well-developed, enabling them to jump large distances when disturbed. Nymphs look like adults but are smaller and have no wings or ovipositors.
* Where to find them: This cricket is common in Honshu and Kyushu, and can often be found in farmland, yards, gardens and suburban areas, under rocks and logs.
* Food: Crickets have chewing mouthparts and are herbivorous, eating plant materials, including leaves, shoots and roots. They are sometimes considered pests by farmers.
* Special features: Crickets are able to fly, but usually leap to avoid predators. Instead of being used for flight, the forewings, which are thick and leathery, are rubbed together to produce a chirping noise. The chirping is used to notify intruders of already occupied territories or to attract a female, and the attractive sound is the reason that crickets were traditionally kept in wooden cages in Japan. Males produce a spermatophore, a nutritious package containing sperm, and attach it to the female's external genitalia. While the female is occupied consuming the outer part of the package, the part that is attached to her releases sperm, which the female stores internally. The female lays eggs either one by one or in groups, by inserting her ovipositor into soft, damp soil.



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