Tuesday Teaser

A recent post by Art Evans at What’s Bugging You reminded me about this photograph that I took some 10 years ago.  This will likely be a difficult challenge, but I’m willing to entertain guesses about its identity and where I found it.  For location, let’s just say I’ve featured quite a few insects from this place in past months – it might take a little digging to figure it out, so first correct answer is worth 4 points.  Knowing this will be key to figuring out its identity.  In that regard, order will be a gimme, so the first person who stumbles upon this will likely earn the measely 2 points available for correctly answering that question.  Family will be more difficult – 4 points if you score first on this one (hint – beware of recent taxonomic changes).  Genus will be a real, though not impossible challenge (in fact, necessary resources to determine this are available online) – a whopping 6 points await the first person to correctly identify that taxon.  Sadly, a definite species name won’t be possible (another clue?), but there is a short list of species that have been described from the general area, so bonus points are available for anyone willing to take on that challenge.  I have no additional pictures of this beast, so look for the answer as a comment to this post in a couple days or so.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2010

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25 thoughts on “Tuesday Teaser

  1. Don’t know about the species – I gather many remain to be described – but this one is rather dark, so maybe fuscus?

  2. I felt a little awkward nipping in and stealing the order without actually doing some homework, so did a little digging. Started off down the weta route (being an Aussie), and came to the same conclusion with the family as you, James (i.e. the N.American equiv of our wetas).

    I’m going to go with Anostostoma as the genus.

    • I should have added that this genus was with a change of heart on the family too – changing my guess (and it’s definitely a guess!) to Anostostomatidae.

      I appreciate that these are pretty much all old world, but I’m hanging my hopes on morphological similarities to Anostostoma tolteca. The head, legs, antennae and postnotum all look more like our king cricket’s than they do a Jerusalem crick.

  3. “Orthoptera” and “Anostostomatidae” are correct.

    Points are still up for grabs for:
    – locality (4 points)
    – genus (6 points)
    – species short list (variable)

    Clue regarding locality: “photograph I took some 10 years ago.”

  4. Getting close – we know it’s in the family Anostostomatidae, so it has to be Old World. I’ll mention my tag list again 🙂

    Once the locality is known, Googling appropriate terms should locate a fine resource (think pdf)!

    Better hurry – my stats page suggests someone from New Zealand is on the right track 🙂

    p.s. no moaning about not knowing this group – I’m a New World coleopterist and I figured it out (with subsequent confirmation from an expert).

    • Nope – sorry Ted still stumped. It’s the length (or rather lack of length) of those stumpy hinds which are throwing me. Found what I assume is the pdf you refer too, but no good.

      I’ll sign off with one last attempt… Bochus?

      Always worth a shot!

      • Aw, giving up already? You were making such good progress!

        Yes – South Africa. I’m gonna split the points for that between you and Chris.

        Six whopping points still up for grabs on the genus! Those stubby hing legs threw me, too. Not Bochus, but you’re very close.

        • Ok! Had another look at the key (by process of elimination I think i will get there eventually!).

          I am thinking it might hinge on the spineyness of the genicular lobes. However as a conservation biologist by training, I am a “work in progress” as an entomologist and hence… I’m not sure what these are! If you would like to point them out I would be very appreciative, as google wasn’t forthcoming with an answer!

          It’s been a few hours since my last attempt – so here’s my next! Nasidius? (here’s where I discover that the fellow in the photo has some awesomely spiney genicular lobes, blowing my Nasidius out of the water (even though he has nice light patches at his knees).

          • A genicular lobe is an extension of the “cheek.” While the lower genae are somewhat hidden in this photo, there is nothing to suggest that the head of this individual is unusually modified. However, Nasidius is one of a few genera in which the males show striking enlargement of the head and/or mandibles. The normal-looking head of this individual tells me that it is either: 1) a female; or 2) a male of one of the genera that do not exhibit such modifications. I’ll let you decide which 🙂

    • Libanasidus is not as close as Bochus because it has only one spine on the inner margin of the foretibia – the individual in this photo clearly has two. Libanasidus also has the thoracic and abdominal tergites strikingly margined with black along the posterior margin.

  5. Onosandrus sp…… I finally found the dissertation which had up to this point eluded me. However, I also am not sure what a genicular lobe is so this is a guess. But the Onosandrus species definitely exhibit the tergites with black posterior margins.

    • See response above to peteryeeles regarding the genicular lobes, but Onosandrus (like Libanasidus) has only one spine on the inner margin of the foretibia. Two large, distinct spines can be seen on the foretibiae of this individual.

      Color can be variable and is not very diagnostic at the generic level.

  6. Okay, we’ve eliminated Bochus, Nasidius, Libanasidus, and Onosandrus – there are only eight genera of king crickets in South Africa, so someone is gonna get this real soon 🙂

  7. Well my last attempt here is going to be a male Onosandridus sp.

    This is based on the assumptions that:
    couplet 1 the tympanum is not obvious on the fore tibia
    couplet 2 two spines on inner margin of fore tibia
    couplet 3 no enlargement of mandibles (male) or ovipositor not long.
    couplet 5 no large ovipositor (so male) and smooth face so not a Bochus sp.

  8. I say Onosandridus, based on the key in “Review of southern African Anostostomatidae (Orthoptera: Ensifera), with a key to genera” by Brettschneider:

    Two spines on inner margin of foretibia. Hind femur never armed with spines/hooks
    Males with no modificiation of the head or mandibles

    Then regarding the ovipositor: this is a male, but since we eliminated Bochus, it has to be Onosandridus.

  9. Yep – Onosandridus it is. I originally came to that conclusion myself when I was trying to identify this thing, but then second guessed it when reading the description of the type species. I sent the photo to Sam Heads, an Orthoptera expert at the Illinois Natural History Survey, who replied with the following:

    This is a king cricket (Anostostomatidae) of the genus Onosandridus Péringuey. The presence of two (rather than one),
    impressive looking spines on the inner surface of the protibia are characteristic of both Bochus and Onosandridus, but the head and face are distinctly tuberculate in the former genus which is clearly not the case in your specimen.

    Heath and Jason both zeroed in on the correct genus, but Heath got it first and thus gets the points.

    This competition is still not over, however, as a short list of described species that it could be is still possible. Right now the points tally is:
    – Peter – 8 points
    – Heath – 6 points
    – Chris – 2 points

    I’ll see if there are any takers for that last little challenge before posting the final standings.


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