Bush cricket - seeking identity

Published in Nature Watch

Identity found! Our bush-cricket has turned out to be Ephippiger discoidalis, the Dalmatian Saddle Bush-cricket.

Bush cricket, July 2018. Bush cricket, July 2018. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

Photographed on the heights (Vrh) above Zavala during the early-morning lavender harvest in July 2018, this fascinating insect proved a puzzle to identify. An intensive search of the internet for clues did not provide the answer.

However, in response to our question: "Can you help identify this splendid bush cricket?", the answer came with astonishing speed. Steve Jones, our resident bird-and-insect-watcher, made the initial identification of 'bush-cricket'. Then Jeremy Bartlett, expert author of the inspiring blog 'Let it Grow', offered to post the pictures in a couple of Orthoptera groups on Facebook, as this bush-cricket was not one which occurs in Britain, nor was it identified in his book of southern European insects. 

Our correspondence started on 30th January 2019. On February 1st, Jeremy wrote: "Yesterday I applied to join the Facebook “Orthoptera” group, where people post photos of grasshoppers and crickets for identification. This morning I received confirmation I’d joined the group, so I posted the photos. Within ten minutes someone had identified the bush-cricket.
It is Ephippiger discoidalis, the Dalmatian Saddle Bush-cricket.
For a distribution map, click here; while the website 'Grasshoppers of Europe' has more pictures. 

Although Facebook is used to spread hate or fake news, it can also be very positive and useful when helping with insect (or plant) identification!"

In conclusion, Jeremy provided a charming post-script to this satisfying quest: "Glad we found out what it was - a very handsome beast! We get a smaller, but nonetheless lovely, bush-cricket on our allotment and, in the past two years, in our garden: Long-winged Conehead, Conocephalus fuscus. They are spreading north in Britain. They like to sit on tree trunks or wooden posts and when they know they’ve been seen, they shuffle round to the other side of the trunk / post. The males have a very high pitched call, which we can hear but a lot of our friends can’t. They are what we call “charismatic microfauna”."

So a big thank-you to Jeremy, Steve and the kind Orthoptera enthusiast who took the trouble to help us out!

© Vivian Grisogono MA(Oxon) 2019.

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