Hunt for the Bog Bush-cricket

The SWSEIC team took a morning excursion to Aucheninnes Moss in search of one of the regions rarest insects, the Bog Bush-cricket Metrioptera brachyptera, which is only found on two sites in Scotland. Both are within 1 mile of each other near Dalbeattie.

This species is well know from the site and despite being fairly rare throughout the UK, belied their scarcity on the day. In less than 1 hour we counted no less than 18 individuals which was a gross underestimate as they don’t often hang around long enough for you to properly count them. Nonetheless we can report the population continues to thrive at the site.

Bog Bush Crickets are sexually dimorphic, whereby males and females look different.  Females have a large scimitar-shaped appendage called an ovipositor which they use to cut into vegetation so they can provide a protected environment to lay their eggs.

They are largely vegetarian feeding mostly on heathers and are confined to lowland bog habitats. As a result of these very specific requirements this species has undergone national declines due to habitat loss and habitat degradation caused by woodland encroachment and human activity.

Whilst on the hunt for Bog Bush-crickets the SWSEIC team also recorded three other species of Orthoptera, the order of insects that includes bush-crickets, grasshoppers, groundhoppers and even the New Zealand Weta. These species were Meadow Grasshopper Chorthippus parallelus, a common species that thrives in damper habitats and taller vegetaion, our most abundant grasshopper the Common Green Grasshopper Omocestus viridulus and the cryptic Common Groundhopper Tetrix undulata.

For the keen local entomologist there are three more species of bush-cricket that can be found in the region. The Dark Bush-cricket Pholidoptera griseoaptera can be seen on the Galloway coast along Ravenshall Wood and the coastal slopes west of Portling. The Speckled Bush-cricket Leptophyes punctatissima and Short-winged Conehead Conocephalus dorsalis can be found scattered along the Solway coastline, and the latter has been expanding its range in recent years.

If you find any bush-crickets or grasshoppers please do add your records on iRecord. SWSEIC are happy to help with identification of photos if you are unsure of species.


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