Friday, September 14, 2012

Invasion of the Japanese burrowing cricket

A Japanese burrowing cricket, Velarifictorus micado, emerges from the plantain leaves long enough to allow your narrator a photo. The big field cricket-sized animals typically remain well hidden in mulch, cracks in the soil, or other nooks and crevices.

About three years ago, I began to hear an unfamiliar cricket here and there around my hometown of Columbus, Ohio. It didn't take too much sleuthing to determine that the singer was a nonnative Orthopteran - the Japanese burrowing cricket. Their deep rich (for a cricket) series of chirps are distinctive, and always given from the ground. This cricket is strictly terrestrial.

In the three or so years since first identifying this species, they've gone fairly haywire. I now hear Japanese burrowing crickets nearly everywhere I go, including places where I know they weren't present just a year or so ago. I think I heard my first one at the office complex where I work last year; now they are everywhere and I might hear a half-dozen or more on a short jaunt between buildings.

Japanese burrowing crickets frequent highly landscaped situations such as mulch beds, mulched trails, areas where ornamental trees have been planted, etc. As long as they stay in such places, they'll probably pose no threat to our native animals, Orthopteran or otherwise. This species is clearly hitchhiking in mulch and soil that is attached to landscape trees and other ornamental plants. It is amazing how rapidly they have been able to colonize new areas; a testament to all of the (bad) landscaping that people do.

Listen for this cricket, which sings day and night. I'll bet you'll hear one sooner than later. CLICK HERE to hear Wil Hershberger's excellent recording of a Japanese burrowing cricket.


Tom Arbour said...

Very interesting Jim. I've got scads of these around my house. I would have never guessed they are non-native.

~Heather said...

My 5 year old son brings me multiple crickets a day. He finds them in our landscaped beds just outside the front door. I thought they seemed awfully big and numerous!! I'll be listening to see if the chirp matches the clip you provided. Love your blog! Great resource.

LadyLawnLawn said...

Thanks, Jim. Do you have any info on the habits of this cricket? Like what do the burrows look like? We have seen some unusual digging, not squirrel-like, or skunks looking for grubs, or moles, voles or cicada killer wasps. Would like to 'dig' into this.

Jim McCormac said...

Thanks for the comments! Lady L-L, I really don't know much about JBC's other than what I put in this post. From what I've seen, I'm not sure they construct fullblown burrows; it appears that they might use existing nooks and crannies, although perhaps modifying/enlarging them.

LadyLawnLawn said...

I did some searching and that sounds like what I found. Afraid they were like mole crickets! They are used for fighting in Asia too! BTW, my real name is Joyce P from Akron Audubon. Thanks for the reply.