Impressive fellow, isn't he?
Observing a Striped Raspy Cricket Paragryllacris combusta (family Gryllacrididae) both as a nymph and an adult in my backyard was a real treat. When I first spotted the wingless nymph it was clinging to the eaves above the kitchen window.
The nymph's long thread-like antennae were coated in strands of silk as it wandered through a spider's web. Consequently the antennae became tangled around the cricket's front legs and he spent several minutes cleaning them. It was fascinating to watch this grooming process from an up-close vantage point.
Cricket nymph gets in a bit of a tangle.....
.....then grooms his sensitive antennae
But as I moved in for a closer look, I soon found out why this cricket's common name was 'Raspy Cricket'. Initially uncomfortable about my intrusion, he raised his quivering rear-end and emitted a sound that could be likened to two pieces of sandpaper rubbing together. I presume that mouth could inflict a reasonable bite too!
Two days later I was excited to find a winged adult Striped Raspy Cricket in the shed. It was pale and lethargic and appeared to be recovering from a moult. It soon became brighter and more active, although not yet prepared to fly, so I had an opportunity to further study it's appearance and behaviour. They shed their skin 5 to 7 times as they grow, then become winged adults.
My hand gives a size perspective of the adult cricket
While the cricket was resting on a cardboard box I spent time checking out the finer details of this impressive insect. Raspy Crickets are expert climbers hiding by day under bark or in abandoned insect tunnels and feeding at night on a variety of insects and some vegetation.
They are also well equipped for digging and cutting through grass roots with wide 'blades' and sharp claws on their feet (see a close up of front feet in first photo).
In the following picture you can see a structure at the rear end of the cricket that resembles testes. This is another indicator that this male cricket may have recently moulted or mated, and although this testes-like feature is part of his mating aparatus, it is not testes as these are internal and much larger. These external parts will withdraw into the body when he has hardened up or 'readjusted' himself.
Rear-end features of male Raspy Cricket
The male Raspy Cricket is readily identifiable by the presence of the two rear-end spikes, whereas a female will have a long sabre-like ovipositor on the back end which they use to insert eggs deep into the ground or bark according to species.
The picture below shows a forward facing curved spur on the front leg. Both sexes have the spurs so it isn't something that only one sex requires. Unfortunately the biology of a lot of our insects is very poorly known, and the purpose of these spurs has not been recorded.
A close-up of the adult Raspy Cricket shows many features including the front leg spur
Amateur nature enthusiasts can, and do, make useful and important observations and discoveries in the world of nature.