Cuban Ground Cricket

Cuban Ground Cricket (Neonemobius cubensis)

Occurrence

Very common in its preferred habitats.

Habitat

Almost any grassy area except those in more urban and inner-ring suburban areas. They are an

expected species along grassy paths, in meadows, and and occasionally near wetland edges, but they aren't found in the woods. They can sometimes be found in drier more sandy areas as well; there is a population in a prairie plants in near the parking lot at Mentor Lagoons and they are also at Sandy Ridge Reservation in the Lorain County Metroparks.

Range

All counties in our region. The Cuban Ground Cricket was not on the Singing Insects of North America website for our region until 2015, when my documentation was accepted. See my links to my Listening in Nature blog for the story.

Physical description

At about 1/4", it is the smallest of our ground crickets. They are very dark, but you may be able to see the minute white spots on their hind legs. The female's short wings reveal white spots on the abdomen as well. The palps are dark at the ends but white closer to the head; this will be an easier characteristic to see.

The Confused Ground Cricket (not common in our area) has entirely bright, white palps. Both species can be found at Mentor Lagoons, so this is one place to check those palps carefully.

Females are on the left (above and below) and males are on the right. Notice the bicolored palps, the white spots on the legs, and the visible white spots on the female's abdomen.

Song

Their smooth, beautiful songs begin very softly and crescendo over several seconds, ending with an abrupt cutoff. After several seconds of silence, the next song begins. The timing reminds me of taking a breath, then doing a slow exhale. This just might be my favorite cricket song, because it feels so peaceful.

 

They sing in the afternoon and at night, and their songs do not resemble our other common ground crickets.

Cuban Ground Cricket - Recording by Lisa Rainsong
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Similar species

Sphagnum Ground Crickets (Neonemobius palustris), which are bog residents, are comparably tiny and have a similar song. They, too, can be found in NE Ohio but you would have to explore a bog mat to encounter these crickets.

Field observation

This was not a species that was previously expected in Ohio or even nearby states. I learned about them when I consistently heard a song that matched this species but was singing from mowed, grassy paths in Geauga County. I was finally able to catch one of these powerful little jumpers and take him home to his own terrarium. The song matched, the photos matched, and I subsequently found these crickets in every county in our region.

Listening in Nature: ground and field crickets:

http://listeninginnature.blogspot.com/2014/11/crickets-in-house-ground-crickets-and.html

 

Songs of Insects

http://songsofinsects.com/crickets/cuban-ground-cricket

Nature Inquiries: Cuban and Variegated Ground Crickets ("the tiny ones")

https://natureinquiries.wordpress.com/2018/11/01/the-tiny-ones

Singing Insects of North America

http://www.entnemdept.ufl.edu/walker/buzz/537a.htm