Grasshoppers and crickets

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The main difference between grasshoppers and bush-crickets is that grasshoppers are vegetarian and diurnal, while bush-crickets are hunters and predominantly nocturnal. This is reflected in the structure of their bodies: bush-crickets are generally larger and more powerful and have longer antennae. What they have in common are powerful hind legs that allow them to leap to safety when threatened, and their habit of stridulating – making a chirping or buzzing noise – by rubbing their hind legs together and/or against their wings. This is probably done both to advertise their territories and to attract mates, and many species can be identified by the noise they make.

The meadow grasshopper is probably the commonest grasshopper in Essex, found in almost any patch of long grass.

The oak bush-cricket and dark bush-cricket are as widespread but in smaller numbers, while roesels bush-cricket has been extending its range and may have caught them up. Another recent colonist is the long-winged conehead: once confined to the south coast, it is spreading steadily northwards. The great green bush-cricket and short-winged conehead are principally coastal species.

Photo © Tony Gunton