Grasshoppers, Crickets and other Orthoptera

This page looks at the grasshoppers, crickets and allied creatures such as cone-heads and ground-hoppers - members of the Order Orthoptera - which are known from the area. At the beginning of 2012 twelve species were listed here.

The latest to have been identified was the Stripe-winged Grasshopper, Stenobothrus lineatus, found in the Aldersbrook Exchange Lands - once the old sewage works site. The Common Green Grasshopper Omocestulus viridulus would seem to be not so common as its name suggests; although having been seen from time to time on the Plain in Wanstead Park, and once or twice in the Exchange Lands, it doesn't show much. Similarly, the Lesser Marsh Grasshopper Chorthippus albomarginatus has only been recorded twice, both times near to Alexandra Lake on Wanstead Flats. In this case it was only recognised in 2011, but a photograph taken in 2007 is of this species. The Common Field Grasshopper Chorthippus brunneus does seem to be relatively common, although records are only present from the Exchange Lands and the cemetery. The Meadow Grasshopper Chorthippus parallelus is common in a variety of areas.

We seem to have only one species of conehead, the Long-winged Conehead Conocephalus discolor,  which has been seen in the Exchange Lands, on Wanstead Flats particularly near Angell Pond and in Wanstead Park particularly at the west end of the Heronry Pond and at the south edge of the Shoulder of Mutton.

The Oak Bush-cricket Meconema thalassinum is a common species, often being found seemingly attracted to the lights of houses by Wanstead Flats and on the south edge of Wanstead Park. Similarly, the Speckled Bush-cricket Leptophyes punctatissima is quite common, having been seen onnumerous occasions in Wanstead Park, and a pair on the leaves of a rose bush in my Capel Road garden.

A surprise one April in Wanstead Park was what appeared to be a grasshopper, but very early in the year. It was a specimen of Slender Ground-hopper Tetrix subulata, found in rough vegetation on south side of Heronry Pond, on 24th April 2009. Another was seen on 6th May 2013, again by the Heronry Pond but this time at the extreme east end, and on 31st May an adult and some younger specimens were seen in the same location.

The Dark Bush-cricket Pholidoptera griseoaptera has been seen once in Wanstead Park and once on the east bank of the Roding, which suggest it isn't very common. The dramatic Roesel's Bush-cricket Metrioptera roeselii on the other hand is quite common having been seen on the Flats, in the Park in the Exchange Lands and in the City of London Cemetery.

One last member of the Orthoptera which was present but now sadly seems to be missing, is the House Cricket Acheta domestica. Colonies of these were present in the waste dumped from Aldersbrook Riding School just at the edge of Aldersbrook Allotments, and in the rubbish tip known as the shute in the City of London Cemetery. Although very difficult to see, their calls could be heard from both these places up until about 2006, and I recall hearing them once or twice in Capel Road at the edge of Wanstead Flats and even in Earlham Grove, Forest Gate.

 

If you subtract 40 from
the number of cricket
chirps a minute, divide
the result by 4 and add
50 to the result,you can
tell the temperature

    Ivor Cutler

 

Name Species Locality
Stripe-winged Grasshopper Stenobothrus lineatus Sewage Works, 19/07/2011
Common Green Grasshopper Omocestulus viridulus In Wanstead Park on the Plain in 2008,2009,2011; in Sewage Works 10/08/01 & 2011
Lesser Marsh Grasshopper Chorthippus albomarginatus Wanstead Flats where found by Alexandra Lake on 24/07/2007 and 09/07/2011
Common Field Grasshopper Chorthippus brunneus Sewage Works; COL cemetery
Meadow Grasshopper Chorthippus parallelus Sewage Works; Wanstead Park
Long-winged Conehead Conocephalus discolor Sewage Works on 10/09/1990; Wanstead Flats; Wanstead Park
Oak Bush-cricket Meconema thalassinum Common on Wanstead Flats
Speckled Bush-cricket Leptophyes punctatissima Common around Wanstead Park; has also been seen in my Capel Road garden (17/08/2019)
Slender Ground-hopper Tetrix subulata First seen in Wanstead Park in rough vegetation on south side of Heronry Pond, 24/04/2009; Another at east end of Heronry Pond on 6th May 2013 and one adult and some immature on 31st May 2013
Dark Bush-cricket Pholidoptera griseoaptera First found in Wanstead Park on 27/06/2007 and on East bank of the Roding on 08/07/08
Roesel's Bush-cricket Metrioptera roeselii Common on Flats, in Park and in Sewage Works and COL cemetery
House Cricket Acheta domestica By Aldersbrook Riding School, in Allotments and in COL Cemetery on a huge rubbish tip that used to exist there. Not heard since 2006

 

Records from other sources

Records gleaned from other sources include mention of the distribution of the Common Green Grasshopper (Omocestus viridulus) compared to Lesser Marsh Grasshopper (Chorthippus albomarginatus). In the archives of the Essex Field Club (http://www.essexfieldclub.org.uk/archivetext/s/110/o/0108) the former is said to be found mainly in the north of the Forest whilst the latter is virtually confined to grasslands in the south, including Wanstead and Leyton Flats. This may well agree with present findings - albeit C. albomarginatus has not been recognised locally until recently.

In a further archive page (http://www.essexfieldclub.org.uk/archivetext/s/124/o/0044), Roesel's Bush Cricket (Metrioptera roeselii) is mentioned as not being particularly common in Epping Forest, but is found on Wanstead and Leyton Flats.  The Short-winged Conehead (Conocephalus dorsalis) is mentioned: "uncommon, having been recorded only at Wanstead Flats, but it may well be in other areas close by." This has not been found in the area recently, as far as I know, although the Long-winged Conehead (C. discolor) has.

 

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