Wenlock Edge, Shropshire: An oak bush cricket on a plastic bin is a surreal sight, its colour imbued with a vibrancy that even flowers lack
A cricket climbed up the recycling bin. It had been rescued from lettuces being cropped and taken to a quieter corner of the garden under an oak tree – it was an oak bush cricket. The insect walked determinedly until it found the first vertical object and climbed up, adding itself to the stylised image of Bridgnorth that the council uses on its wheelie bins.
The oak bush cricket, Meconema thalassinum, is about 15mm long, with powerful back legs, which the males use for drumming on leaves. They fold the tibia against the femur, causing a vibration in the acute angle so that the tarsus strikes the leaf. Each male has a distinctive pattern of trains or bursts of beats, which inhabit the tree canopy as an aural landscape of talking drums. This individual is female, with a long ovipositor for laying eggs under tree bark. They are largely carnivorous, feeding on small invertebrates in their usually arboreal world.
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