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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

29 August, 2010

Short Winged Conehead (Conocephalus dorsalis)

Always expect the unexpected! When I happened upon this little creature on the Dorset Wildlife Trust reserve at Kilwood I was chuffed to be able to get a photo of what I thought at the time was a Long Winged Conehead. When I got it home and had a proper look at it, to my delight I saw it was a female Short Winged Conehead!

Why should I be so pleased? Because in the last 30 years the then rarer Long Winged has spread rapidly and is now quite common whereas the Short Winged has stayed quite rare.

The 'coneheads' are crickets rather than grasshoppers but rather look like a cross between the two. The very long antennae is the most obvious indicator that it is a cricket rather than grasshopper. On this specimen you will see the wings only come half way down the back, the Long Winged have wings down to their 'tails'. The Short Winged also has a much darker stripe down its back.

This female (see the long 'tail' or ovipositor) was on Fleabane near some damp grassland, their preferred habitat, the Long Winged preferring dryer, rough grassland.