12/10/2021: Sand field crickets back from beyond the grave
Against most odds, I have initiated the culture of Gryllus firmus once more!
Desperate to get out and collect during our long and tedious drive to Arizona, Will and I visited a Nebraska rest stop during the wee hours of the morning. Even with the cold and blowing winds, there were many treasures to be found. Will loaded up on pseudoscorpions while I grabbed some Parcoblatta and Eumesosoma. At one point I heard the feeble chirp from something I recognized but couldn’t put my finger on… until the memory circuits kicked in and I realized it was a sand field cricket!
I sorted through a few dozen crickets that night (Gryllus pennsylvanicus were out in full force as well) until I differentiated several female potential firmus. These ladies survived all of the temperature, humidity, lighting, food, and time changes as we traveled the whole trip… only for me to let the cup desiccate when I came home and tended to my precious sand roaches first.
I noticed a few eggs in the substrate at the bottom, so figured I would keep the container around. A few weeks later, I went to throw it out but was greeted by many tiny black crickets! I was so elated I ridiculously let the tiny group of tiny crickets out into a decked-out ten gallon enclosure. Currently, the largest are about 4th instar; it always surprises me how fast crickets can grow when they’re fed properly and not piled on top of each other!
I’m fairly certain these are firmus, as pennsylvanicus have a pretty strict diapause requirement for their eggs while firmus are more flexible. With scheduled husbandry and good vibes I’ll hopefully have a bountiful colony by spring!
**Upon finishing this article, I was surprised and disgruntled to discover that North American Gryllus taxonomy was recently examined and that identification by call is no longer considered as consistent. When these crickets mature I’ll be using a combination of geographical, morphological, and acoustic information to determine what they are by the new publication.