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Field cricket

[ GRYLLUS VOCALIS ]

Little field crickets of California’s pastures, fields and lawns provide rollicking background music for sultry summer evenings. Hiding in cracks in the ground, males “sing” by rubbing their rough-edged forewings together at high frequency -- a process known as stridulation -- to attract females. The calling rate and duration of chirps made by each male are an indication of his health and size, and this helps females identify the best possible mates, even in the dark. Predators also home in on loudly calling males, which explains why crickets stop calling as soon as a person walks nearby. Females lay their eggs in the ground or soft-stemmed plants in late summer and fall, just about the time that the chorus of males starts to taper off in response to cooler evenings.

NATURAL HISTORY

The taxonomy of field crickets is still being sorted out and numerous questions remain about how many species should be recognized. All are very similar, but Gryllus vocalis is a species specific to the Los Angeles region.

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KEY CHARACTERISTICS

Black or reddish-brown insect with long antennae and muscular hind legs for jumping; very common under boards or rocks in fields.


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