Putting a Face to a Sound: The Speckled Bush-cricket

Leptophyes punctatissima [SPECKLED BUSH CRICKET] Backwell, UK 26.08.2017 #1

That doesn’t sound like a bat…

The majority of our paid work in the UK, especially as of late, is to carry out bat surveys. This involves turning up to a site just before dusk or dawn and listening out for bat echolocations using a special piece of equipment, a bat detector.

Bats found in the UK echolocate at frequencies between approximately 20kHz-120kHz. This is different from species to species. Bat detectors pick up these calls, and we can then use this information to start identifying which bat species are present.

More often than not, we hear a lot of bats during these very unsociable hours, however, we also have some background noise to contend with. Often it is the rustling of a rain jacket, the jingle of keys in a pocket, or rain drops pinging off roof tiles. On top of that, we often get an intermittent ‘tsssip‘ around 40kHz. On some sites there can be so much of this that it can be difficult to hear any ‘battyness’ at all. It can be quite frustrating.

What is it then?

The trouble-makers that clog up our bat recordings are some of our Orthopteran friends, the crickets.

The call of grasshoppers and crickets, ‘stridulation’, produces a sound which covers a range of frequencies. You can usually hear the sound made by grasshoppers using just your ears, but many species of cricket produce a higher frequency call that can’t be heard by most humans. This is where the bat detector comes into play: You can actually hear these higher frequency songs.

One such species that can’t ordinarily be heard without the use of a detector is the star of our blog today:  The speckled bush-cricket.


Both males and females call. The males call and the females reply, with the male the moving in on the females’ location. The fact that both males and females are able to sing makes them unusual among crickets.

Speckled bush-crickets are common in well vegetated locations such as woodland, hedgerows, meadows and gardens across the UK and northern Europe. They eat leaves and flowers and lay their eggs within tree bark or plant stems where they remain and overwinter until hatching the following spring.

They cannot fly, are green and speckled, with long antennae and a brown line down the centre of their back. This is particularly pronounced in males. Females are distinguished from males easily as they have a curved ovipositor at their rear.

Take a closer look

These crickets (as is all life in my opinion) look truly beautiful up close. The light caught this lady just right and helps show off  her speckles.

If you want to look for crickets and grasshoppers, get a hold of this handy Guide to British Grasshoppers and Allied Insects from the People’s Trust of Endangered Species, or this free guide from the Orthoptera & Allied Insects website.

Leptophyes punctatissima [SPECKLED BUSH CRICKET] Backwell, UK 26.08.2017

References and Further Reading

The Hoopoe: A blog by NHBS – Recording Orthoptera Using a Bat Detector –https://blog.nhbs.com/subject/zoology-subject/entomology-subject/recording-orthoptera-using-a-bat-detector/
(Retrieved 31 August, 2017)

The Lizard Website – http://www.the-lizard.org/index.php/article-archives/108-invertebrates/250-speckled-bush-cricket
(Retrieved 31 August, 2017)

Orthoptera & Allied Insects guide – https://www.orthoptera.org.uk/sites/default/files/pdf/Common%20Bush-crickets%20and%20Grasshoppers.pdf 
(Retrieved 31 August, 2017)

Orthoptera & Allied Insects Record Scheme Website – https://www.orthoptera.org.uk/ 
(Retrieved 31 August, 2017)

Peoples Trust for Endangered Species Guide – https://ptes.org/shop/wildlife-guides/british-grasshoppers/
(Retrieved 31 August, 2017)

UK Safari Website – http://www.uksafari.com/crickets_speckled_bush.htm
(Retrieved 31 August, 2017)

Wikipedia Website – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speckled_bush-cricket
(Retrieved 31 August, 2017)


7 Comments Add yours

  1. sarasmerdon says:

    Stunning photo!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Sara! 😊


  2. Hello! I’m going to do a post about “green” in Sept sometime. I want to ask your permission to use the bush-cricket image with the berries. It would be one of about 10 photos I’ll have in my post and I would link to this post and to your blog home.If you give me a name I will also credit the photographer by name. Pls let me know. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We’re glad that you like this photo and would like to use it in your blog. Please do use it. 😊 We are looking forward to reading your post! You can credit the photographer as Thomas David Miles.

      Thank you!🌿


      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was just getting around to letting you know the post was up when I saw the “like” come in. Thanks for visiting! I love the bright colours of the bush-cricket with the berries!

        Liked by 1 person

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