Grasshoppers, crickets and bush-crickets
This family contains more than 6,400 species, ranging from 5mm in length to as long as 130mm. Known as the katydids and bushcrickets, there are 11 species in the UK that belong to this family. They can be distinguished from grasshoppers by their very long antennae.
What do they look like?
This species is relatively easy to identify, in part because of their size. The males can grow up to 36 millimetres in length and females reach nearly 70 millimetres. They are normally completely green apart from a brown rust coloured line on the top of their body, although some have been found to be more yellow or with yellow legs. They also have long antennae that can be up to three times the length of the body. The females carry a long ovipositor (an egg-laying organ) that is located at the end of their body and curves down slightly. These ovipositors can be up to 32 millimetres in length and are used for laying eggs into the soil.
Where do they live?
They are mostly found in herbaceous and shrubby habitats such as grasslands, heathlands, meadows, woodlands and occasionally gardens.
Where can they be found?
They can be found in Southern England and South Wales, although some have been found in the lower midlands.
When can you see them?
The nymphs can be found from April and mature into adults in late June. They are active until October.
The females lay their eggs using their ovipositor into soil. The eggs then enter a process called diapause, where they lay dormant over the first winter. When the warmer weather returns, the eggs start to develop until they are near the point of hatching. The eggs then enter diapause again for the second winter. They may hatch and develop into a nymph around April, maturing into an adult in late June.
Alternatively, after the first winter, the diapause can last as long as 7 years, so they would not develop into an adult until 7 years later. As a result, the life cycle can last anywhere between 2 and 7 years. This adaptation helps the species to survive variable climates.
What do they do?
Great green bush crickets feed mainly on flies, caterpillars, and other insect larvae. This helps to control the abundance of other insects and regulate the populations within the ecosystem.
Did you know?
These bush crickets can give a painful bite if you try to handle them, so it is best to admire them within their natural environment.