Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Jumping Bush Cricket

Jumping Bush Cricket (JBC)
If you have heard Jay Barber speak more than three times, you know about his favorite animal, the jumping bush cricket, (Orocharis saltator).  It is famous around here for being the last cricket to call in the fall, a harbinger of the oncoming winter as sure as the falling oak leaves.

I hadn't identified the bush cricket's call in the wild until Sunday night.  I googled, listened to the sound file on musicofnature.org, then stepped out on the deck at Bull Creek and sure enough, there they were singing.  Were they prompted by the night, still warm but with the first cold snap forecast for the next few days?  Maybe it's the falling leaves, the movement of the pigmy rattlesnakes seeking their den, or the rattle of chinkapin oak acorns on the metal barn roof. 

JBC Range
These bush crickets, less than 1 inch long, are found in the Southeast including Southern Missouri.  They prefer open woodlands of deciduous trees but can be heard in shrubs, pines and woodland understory bushes.  They raise one generation a year and overwinter in the egg phase.  Their sound is very hard to localize, making them difficult to find.  Like most crickets, they seem to sense when you are looking for them and grow silent.

The cricket's "song" is actually stridulation, a sound produced by rubbing body parts together.  These are specialty organs, frequently with a rasp-like or scraper surface.  These rubbing surfaces can include legs, thoracic structures, etc.  Crickets and katydids produce their sound by rubbing one wing scraper against the other wing.

JBC stridulating- click to enlarge
David M. Stone has posted this dramatic picture of a jumping bush cricket stridulating on his website, Things Biological.   Considering how hard they can be to find, the picture is especially stunning.

Is this the warmup of their vocalizations or their swan song of winter?  Step outside and tune in to find out.

*  Jumping bush cricket's song is here.
** Stridulation photograph by David M. Stone of http://thingsbiological.wordpress.com


  1. NicE! Just to double cxheck, is the photographer David Stoner?

  2. The picture was by David Stone at thingsbiological.wordpress.com.