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Spotted Ground Cricket

Spotted Ground Cricket (Allonemobius maculatus)

Occurrence

Uncommon. It’s a surprise to find them away from Lake Erie.

Habitat

Dry, sandy, open woods.

Range

Lake Erie shoreline open woods and occasional areas away from the lake. They are more common along the lake shore from the Sandusky area and west and are an expected species in the Oak Openings area near Toledo. East of Cleveland, they can be found each year in the open, sandy woods at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History's North Kingsville Sand Barrens. West of Cleveland, the wooded edge of the beach at Sheldon Marsh is often a place to find them

Spotted Ground Cricket female, beach at Sheldon Marsh

Physical description

They are smaller than the other Allonemobius crickets. They do indeed have spots, but the most obvious characteristic is the white eye ring encircling their dark eyes. There is also a light margin around the male’s wings.

Song

A soft, charming, continuous “tih-tih-tih-tih-tih” that sounds more like a small wooden percussion instrument than the brighter, more metallic sound of the Allard’s Ground Cricket. They sing in the afternoon and at night.

Spotted Ground Cricket - Recording by Lisa Rainsong
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You may think that they sound similar to the Carolina Ground Cricket or even the Allard's Ground Cricket. The Spotted has tiny spaces in its song and is not a continuous stream like that of the Carolina. The Allard's has spaces, but they are a bit larger. Also, the Allard's has a much more jingling sound.

 

First, here's a closer look at the Spotted's song. See how there's a group of five rapid wing strokes followed by the tiniest space, then another group of five? This is what he strings together to make a continuous song.

Next, I'll add a composite track that begins with the Spotted and is followed by the Carolina and then the Allard's. Notice that the Spotted song is a little higher in pitch than the other two.

Spotted-Carolina-Allard's Ground cricket comparisonn Track - Recording by Lisa Rainsong
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Adult season:

They likely begin singing in mid to later July and can be heard into early November.

General description and context

These beautiful ground crickets only seem to be found along the lakeshore in dry, open woods, though I also discovered them in one dry, wooded location at Singer Lake Bog and a small area at the Rocky River Reservation in the Cleveland Metroparks. They are seldom numerous in any area and are generally in small, specific areas when they occur in our region.

Spotted Ground Cricket female.

Similar species: Spotted Ground Crickets can be found with Allard’s Ground Crickets at the outer edges of dry, sandy woods and with Carolina Ground Crickets in open, sandy woods. None of our other species has the beautiful eye rings. As you saw and heard above, Allard’s songs are louder and more metallic in sound. Carolina Ground cricket songs are continuous. There is a wavering quality to the Carolina songs, but there is not the rapid pattern of sound-space-sound-space of the Spotted. The distinctions become a little more difficult later in the fall when temperatures or colder and all the crickets sing at a slower tempo.

Terrarium observation:
Spotted Ground Cricket nymphs do not look like the adults and one might not even suspect that it is the same species. I learned this when Spotted Ground Crickets that I brought home in late fall oviposited in their terrarium and eggs hatched the following year. I was able to observe the striking changes in color and pattern as the nymphs matured. As they reach their later instars, like the male below, they become recognizable as Spotted Ground Crickets.