Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Cricketing in Queensland

Now that the rain has started, insects have been peppering the windows like birdshot. Moths drum frantic tattoos with their wings. Beetles of all types have are throwing themselves against the glass. Some of the scarabs are heavy enough to rattle the panes, while smaller ones make a ticking sound like a tin roof in the sun.

Last night’s ant swarm brought cane toads out from the forest. They lined up beneath the bay window to feed on the insects that dropped from the sills.




After the ants came the termites, shedding their wings as soon as they landed. And then the cricket arrived.



The first signs were percussion ripples in my coffee. (Actually, the ripples turned out to be the last moments of a small beetle that had dropped from the ceiling.) Then I spotted this fabulous creature sitting on the window frame. I wanted to coax her into a jar for an even better look but I didn’t have a container big enough. What I really needed was a bird cage. And a lion tamer's chair.

I think it's a raspy cricket (family Gryllacrididae). The flattened, almost lobe-like pads of the tarsi ('toe' segments) distinguish these giants from the equally bulky and fearsome king and forest crickets (family Stenopelmatidae). They rest by day in burrows or shelters of leaf litter sewn together with silk, emerging at night to feed on ... well ... whatever they want to, I suppose. If only they fed on cane toads ...

14 comments:

Sherrie Y said...

Oh. My. It's a good thing I just woke up. If I were headed for bed, there would be serious danger of disturbed sleep.

mick said...

Love the cricket! What happens with the toads?

swampythings said...

Its always exciting when the rains start after a long dry spell - the sounds of the frogs and insects as well as the scent of the damp earth... we're enjoying it too!
That's a very handsome cricket - looks like it has some serious bitey bits.
Cheers
Barbara

NanaJude said...

It is great fun keeping up with your adventures.
;)

Anonymous said...

Are you sure those alaytes are termites? They look very "ant"-like...

Snail said...

Sherrie, I was hugely impressed by that cricket. I tried to measure it with a ruler, but it wasn't too keen on the process. It was about 70mm from head to tip of ovipositor. I think about 60mm of that was jaws.

Mick, I haven't done anything with the toads yet. I'll be dealing with them soon, but they're doing quite a good job of cleaning up the termites at the moment.

Barbara, things are certainly livening up here. Plenty of insect songs at night (as well as the owls and scrubfowl) but the frogs are still waking up. I've heard Litoria genimaculata and an unidentified species, and seen L. fallax, but the rest are yet to make their presence felt. I'm sure it won't be long!

JJ, glad you're enjoying it.

Anonymous, yes, those are the ants --- the first, and largely inoffensive, wave of flying insects. The termites came later. Pics to follow.

Dark Orange said...

Cane toads, eh? How's ya golf swing coming along?

Gouldiae said...

G'day Bronwen,
You are living amongst it up there. Some Cricket indeed! They do say everything is bigger in .....FNQ.
Gouldiae.

tony said...

Nice to see something of ausies wildlife.

Sherryl said...

My goodness. In New Zealand we might call that a weta. Are they related, do you know?
Wetas used to frighten the life out of me, probably because they did bite. My mother used to find a large broom very handy!

Snail said...

DO, ain't no golf clubs here!

Gouldiae, it was an impressive beast. Fair rattled the window. (Me, too.)

Tony, there's plenty to see around here, especially as the wet season gears up.

Sherryl, I think they're related but not that closely. I'd be with your mother there --- but a broom seems a bit inadequate against a pissed off weta!

Dave Coulter said...

Yikes!!!

Anonymous said...

Solution (literally) for toads... buy large black plastic drum (50L) with tap and air-tight lid - half-fill with water - place in sunny position - put dead toads in top - allow to putrify - pour off excellent fertiliser. Top up with dead toads as required - a nose peg and ability to hold breath for 30+secs advisable. (Something tells me you aren't going to go with this...) W

Snail said...

Dave, I kept my fingers away!

Whale, I've seen what you Territorians do with your toads. Not sure how I'll dispose of this lot. The forest probably doesn't need any more organic matter!