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Subfamily Eneopterinae in North America north Of Mexico

The more than 500 species of this subfamily are largely restricted to moist, tropical habitats. Only 2 of the 11 North American species occur inland from the southeastern coastal plain and 7 occur no farther north than peninsular Florida. There are no western species.

Identification: Medium to robust, brown or gray crickets. Each upper margin of hindtibia armed with row of spines with small teeth between. Head roughly spherical; mouthparts directed down; three ocelli. Second segment of tarsi bilobed. First and second segments of fore and middle tarsi and second segment of hind tarsus with fleshy pad beneath. Length 9-35 mm.

Remarks: Crickets of this subfamily eat leaves, flowers, and fruits of living plants, occasionally damaging species of value to man. They deposit their eggs in pith, bark, or soft wood of plant stems.

Males have dorsal glands on the metathorax. In tree crickets (Oecanthinae) mating females feed at similar glands. No such feeding has been reported in larger bush crickets, but their mating behavior is poorly known. What is known might be described as quirky. For example, in the restless bush cricket (Hapithus agitator), the female sometimes eats the male's forewings during mating. In Orocharis, the female immediately removes the first spermatophore and eats it as she receives the second, which she then removes and eats as she receives the third, etc. This may continue for more than three hours, with the female receiving up to 20 spermatophores.

Loss of calling is frequent in this subfamily. Thirteen of the 27 New World genera have no stridulatory apparatus. Two of three U.S. genera have the apparatus, but one of these (Hapithus) has a noncalling species (brevipennis) and a species with noncalling populations (agitator). Being large and exposed (on foliage) may increase the dangers of calling relative to its benefits.

Because their eggs are laid in the tissues of living plants, bush crickets from other countries may stow away (as eggs) on imported nursery plants where they are difficult to kill without damaging the plant. Two species that probably arrived in this way are Hapithus vagus, from Jamaica, which became temporarily established in greenhouses at Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1900-1905 (Morse 1916); and Xenogryllus sp. (from Taiwan?), well established in the grove area north of Homestead, Florida. A third species, Chremon repitinus, from Haiti, is known in North America from a single female collected 12 Sep 1946 at Glen St. Mary, Florida, and is unlikely to have become established.

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© Thomas J. Walker

Source: Singing Insects of North America

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