Mole cricket

Mole cricket. Photo: Queensland Government.

Mole cricket. Photo: Queensland Government.

Common name: mole cricket

Scientific name: Gryllotalpa pluvialis

Family: Gryllotalpidae

Conservation status: The mole cricket is not listed under the Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992.

Description

The mole cricket has an elongated cylindrical body that is dark in colour with a shiny reddish-brown thorax. Both male and females reach a length of about 30 mm. They have characteristic forelegs that are broad and turned outward for digging, while its hindlegs are short.

Habitat and distribution

Australia's species of mole cricket are common to most areas. Like their mole namesake, they live in permanent burrows in the soil. They burrow underground, digging away with short, strong forelegs. They are often attracted to lights and are commonly found in compost heaps in coastal Queensland and New South Wales.

Life history and behaviour

For such small critters, male mole crickets make an extremely loud trilling call at dusk. Male crickets make sound by rubbing their wings together rapidly. They rub the back edge of their left forewing against a row of teeth on their right forewing. They use the entrance of their modified burrow to amplify the noise they produce with the rapid movement of their wings.

It is believed that most of the time they are herbivorous, feeding on plant roots. However, in rare cases they may be carnivorous and feed on small soil insects.

Further information

Otte, D & Alexander, RD 1983. The Australian Crickets (Orthoptera: Gryllidae). Monograph 22 of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia.

Rentz, DCF 1996. Grasshopper Country – the abundant orthopteroid insects of Australia. University of NSW Press, Sydney.

Tindale, NB 1928. Australasian mole-crickets of the family Gryllotalpidae (Orthoptera). Records of the South Australian Museum 4: 1-42.