Tuesday, 24 May 2011

What's This?

That's odd!
From the other side. This seems even odder!

What you see is the contortion made by an adult male Tree Cricket, Xabea atalaia Otte & Alexander, all in the interest of sex. If you look carefully at the bottom photo you'll see the cricket's wings coming out at about an 80 degree angle.

The male tree cricket either makes a hole or finds a hole in a leaf. He then inserts his head through the hole and then commences his calling song. The body is bent so that the vibrating forewings are framed in the hole. The curvature of the leaf acts as a band shell. This provides the song of the cricket with a loud and resonant quality since the leaf is acting as an amplifier. The cricket always inserts his head in the hole so that the curved portion of the leaf is where the wings are.
The adult male photographed above.
When viewed closely, Xabea tree crickets often have beautiful patterns on the head and thorax.
The leaf with the hole used by the cricket above. The shrub the cricket was using had much damage from caterpillars and I suspect the cricket found the hole and used it. Other crickets were found on the shrub.

This is not the only Tree Cricket that enhances its calling song using leaves in this way. Other species of Xabea do the same thing and the North American Tree Cricket Neoxabea bipunctata (DeGeer) uses leaves in a similar manner.

2 comments:

Patricia K. Lichen said...

Whoa! SO COOL! Leaf acting as amplifier--I love this kind of stuff!

Did you take these photos??? They are fabulous.

Mr. Smiley said...

Thanks Pat. Yes, I took them just the other night.
D