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Family Gryllotalpidae - Mole Crickets

What in the world is this? - Neocurtilla hexadactyla strange looking bug (looks like a cross between a gopher and a craw dead but it has wings also and claws) - Neocurtilla hexadactyla - female Neocurtilla hexadactyla - Northern Mole Cricket - Neocurtilla hexadactyla - female Insanely strong digger found digging in sand next to Chester River, MD - Neocurtilla hexadactyla - male Northern Mole Cricket - Neocurtilla hexadactyla - female Northern Mole Cricket - Neocurtilla hexadactyla - female Any ideas? - Gryllotalpa gryllotalpa - male Northern Mole Cricket - Neocurtilla hexadactyla
Classification
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Orthoptera (Grasshoppers, Crickets, Katydids)
Suborder Ensifera (Long-horned Orthoptera)
Infraorder Gryllidea (Crickets)
Family Gryllotalpidae (Mole Crickets)
Pronunciation
grill-low-TAL-pi-dee
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
formerly considered a subfamily (Gryllotalpinae) within the cricket family Gryllidae
Explanation of Names
Author of family is Fieber, 1852. From genus Gryllotalpa, itself New Latin, from Latin gryllus a cricket, plus talpa, mole (1).

Often considered a subfamily (Gryllotalpinae) of family Gryllidae.
BugGuide follows the classification of Orthoptera Species File Online, which treats the group as family Gryllotalpidae.
Numbers
Arnett (2) lists seven species.
Nearctica.com lists three genera and seven species: Gryllotalpa (3 species), Neocurtilla (1 species), Scapteriscus (3 species).
7 species listed at Singing Insects of North America.
Here's a list of Gryllotalpidae known from the USA, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Distribution data is available for each species from the Mole Cricket Knowledgebase.

Genus Gryllotalpa Latreille, 1804
G. cultriger Uhler, 1864
G. gryllotalpa (Linnaeus, 1758)
G. major Saussure, 1874
G. orientalis Burmeister, 1838

Genus Neocurtilla Kirby, 1906
N. hexadactyla (Perty, 1832)

Genus Scapteriscus Scudder, 1868
S. abbreviatus Scudder, 1869
S. borellii Giglio-Tos, 1869
S. didactylus (Latreille, 1804)
S. imitatus Nickle & Castner, 1984
S. vicinus Scudder, 1869

… Sam W. Heads, 29 March, 2008
Size
body length 20 mm or greater
Identification
Fairly large burrowing orthopterans. Characteristics:
front legs broad, modified for digging, have large "claws"
hind legs not enlarged for jumping (compare Tridactylidae, which have enlarged hind legs)
all tarsi with three segments (formula 3-3-3)
tympana at base of front tibiae
antennae less than half body length
ovipositor variable

Key genera based on structure of forelegs. See Singing Insects of North America pages: key to genera, and photo comparing genera, and the different species of Scapteriscus.

In overall appearance, compare these two widespread species:



Left. Northern Mole Cricket (Neocurtilla hexadactyla) has brownish pronotum, which forms a bit of a hood over head, and short wings.
Right. Southern Mole Cricket (Scapteriscus borellii) has grayish pronotum (usually with four pale spots), which does not form hood over head, and longer wings.

Overview of Species:

Gryllotalpa gryllotalpa

Gryllotalpa major

---no image--- Gryllotalpa cultriger

Neocurtilla hexadactyla

Scapteriscus abbreviatus

Scapteriscus borellii

Scapteriscus vicinus
Habitat
fossorial (digging), nocturnal
See Also
superficially similar but unrelated Tridactylidae - Pygmy Mole 'Crickets' (suborder Caelifera)
Print References
The Century Dictionary--entry for Gryllotalpa (1)
Arnett, p. 167 (2)
Capinera, p. 212, plate 47 (3)
Castner, p. 66 (4)
Bland, p. 100 (5)
Internet References
family account and key to genera (Singing Insects of North America)
classification plus list of world species, synonyms, literature references (Orthoptera Species File)
Works Cited
1.The Century Dictionary: an encyclopedic lexicon of the English language
2.American Insects: A Handbook of the Insects of America North of Mexico
Ross H. Arnett. 2000. CRC Press.
3.Field Guide To Grasshoppers, Katydids, And Crickets Of The United States
John L. Capinera, Ralph D. Scott, Thomas J. Walker. 2004. Cornell University Press.
4.Photographic Atlas of Entomology and Guide To Insect Identification
James L. Castner. 2000. Feline Press.
5.How to Know the Insects
Roger G. Bland, H.E. Jaques. 1978. WCB/McGraw-Hill.