♦ Gryllotalpa gryllotalpa

Species: Gryllotalpa gryllotalpa; mole cricket (gryllus– cricket, talpa– mole)

Taxonomy: Insecta→ Orthoptera→ Ensifera→ Gryllotalpidae→ Gryllotalpa→ Gryllotalpa gryllotalpa (Linnaeus, 1758)

Appearance and size: Adult males are about 50mm, females about 70mm but size may vary. 100% sex determination is done by looking at veins on their wings, as both adult sexes are winged and male have ,,harph“- one of the veins on each wing is modified with a line of tiny teeth to form a stridulatory file. Their longitudinal body is brown with velvet and shimmery hairs. Head is pointing out from saddle-shaped thorax. Insect got it´s name by typical massive mole-like/ showel-like forelegs.

Origin: This polyphagous insect is notorious world-vide introduced pest. Recent researcher now shows us that G. gryllotalpa is complex of several very similiar subspecies, satisfactorily distinguished by their song patterns. It´s distributed within the Western Palaearctic and shares same area with other similiar species on it´s borders.

Habitat: They are strictly underground insect, digging their galleries of tunels. So it´s obvious that they preffer sandy, damp rich soils and reservoir edges. Mole crickets can be also found in gardens and in crop fields, where they are many times considered as major pests, digging holes trough tuberous vegetable.

Housing: Young nymphs up to 5cm showed to be quite tolerant among each other, so holding 3-4 or even 10 animals in 1L seems to be possible (on your own try, for me it worked…). Subadult nymphs and adults should be housed separately as mainly adults shows high territorial behaviour and will kill each other if not separated in time! For each animal, 250ml to 1L box fullfilled with sandy soil should be used. The soil should be more wet than dry, with about 65-75% humidity. There is also possibility to create cca 2cm space between two plates of glass for observation. Don´t forget to provide air ventilation holes.

Diet: They seem to be predatorous (soil fauna like worms, beetle grubs etc) by choice, but besides this can and will feast on tuberous vegetables and crops. In captivity, chunks of potato, carrot (or any other tuberous vegetable) are provided once a week. As protein, worms, beetle grubs od dead crickets (1-3 bodies) are served 1-2 a week. Remove remains of food routinely so the soil should not get infected with entomophagous fungi.

Reproduction and growth: There is little if any evidence on reproduction on captivity (I did not found any yet but there might exist some). Female creates a chamber during the spring where she lays down 100-350 eggs. Larvae hatch within 10-20 days and she continuously protect them for next 2-3 weeks. Development takes 1-3 years and nymphs will undergo from 6 to 8 moults into adults, all according to conditions and region. Usually there are little nymphs during spring and early summer, sub-adults in August-October and adults overwintering to next spring.

Sources:

http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/molecrickets/mcri0201.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gryllotalpa_gryllotalpa

 

Filip Repta, 31.08.´20

 

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