Orthoptera Identification at Grafton Wood 12th August 2000

By Gary Farmer

On a hot and sunny August afternoon (yes there was one!) a group of budding Orthopterists gathered at Grafton Wood where I had promised to find and identify several species of Grasshoppers and Bush-crickets. We were lucky to find two species of each, Grasshoppers, Groundhoppers and Bush-crickets. The main ride through the wood was a good place to find Slender Groundhoppers (Tetrix subulata) and a Common Groundhopper (T. undulata) was also found in the same area allowing for close examination of the two species and identification features were compared. The orchard on the edge of the wood proved the best site for Grasshoppers and Bush-crickets. The two species of crickets were fairly easy to identify, these were Speckled Bush-cricket (Leptophyes punctatisima) and Oak Bush-cricket (Meconema thalassinum). Again the differences between these two species were compared and identification proved straight forward. The problems started with the Grasshoppers - Meadow Grasshopper (Chorthippus parallelus) and Lesser-marsh (C. albomarginatus). These two species are very similar and as a result C. albomarginatus has almost certainly been overlooked in the county. One of the main identification features used is the shape of the pronotal side keels. Some of the individuals that we found were quite obvious but variation is a problem and a slight amount of overlap was evident. The general feeling was that the afternoon had been enjoyable and a good introduction to this group. Requests for further meeting(s) next year were made, so watch this space............

The Key printed in the last Worcestershire Record (No 8, April 2000) was used during the afternoon and has been used by several people on other occasions. As a result a few errors have been found and other suggestions for improvement have been made. The Key is too simplified and has caused some confusion with similar species so I have started working on an improved version for inclusion in a future Worcestershire Record. It is difficult to check a Key when you know the answers so any input is appreciated.

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