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Pycnogaster jugicola Graells, 1851

Teresa Farino
14/10/2009 11:49:10

A new locality for this Iberian endemic cricket in northern Spain.

Posted in: Other Invertebrates | Cantabria, Castile-Leon | Mainland Spain, Northern Spain

Pycnogaster jugicola nymph-Páramo de la Lora-16.05.09 © Teresa FarinoPycnogaster jugicola - nymph
Páramo de la Lora-16.05.09
© Teresa Farino
Over the past decade or so I’ve been developing an interest in the grasshoppers and crickets (Order Orthoptera) of Spain and Portugal, despite both the paucity of field guides for the Iberian fauna and my general abhorrence for killing beasties in the name of science. I was therefore thrilled to come across this weird and wonderful cricket whilst leading a botanical excursion on the Páramo de La Lora - at the confluence between the provinces of Cantabria, Palencia and Burgos - in May of this year.

From the Orthoptera of Europe website, I contacted Roy Kleukers, of the European Invertebrate Survey in the Netherlands, who forwarded some images of this cricket to the eminent European Orthoptera expert, Klaus-Gerard Heller. Dr. Heller confirmed that the beastie was a member of the genus Pycnogaster (which was what I’d suspected), but as it was a nymph, the species was in doubt. He also sent me a map (taken from Pfau, H. K. (1988) Untersuchungen zur Stridulation und Phylogenie der Gattung Pycnogaster Graells, 1851 (Orthoptera, Tettigoniidae, Pycnogastrinae). Mitt. Schweiz. Entomol. Ges. 61: 167-183; see below) showing the suggested ranges of the various Iberian Pycnogaster jugicola-adult male-Páramo de la Lora-26.07.03 © Teresa FarinoPycnogaster jugicola - adult male
Páramo de la Lora-26.07.03
© Teresa Farino
Pycnogaster/Bradygaster species. It is apparent from this map that no member of these genera had previously been recorded from the Páramo de La Lora (marked in red).

I then remembered that I’d photographed a large cricket - stridulating in the top of the low bushes of the páramo - in almost exactly the same place way back in late July 2003. When I sent Dr Heller several images of this specimen, he confirmed that it was indeed an adult male Pycnogaster jugicola, on the basis that the paranota (the lateral sections of the pronotum) are sinuous ventrally; the side keels are not interrupted by a sulcus (a transverse incision of the pronotum); the distance between the eyes is more than twice as broad as the scapus (the first antennal segment); and the general coloration of the creature. He also suggested that, given the location of the Páramo de la Lora, it was a very interesting record, and should be published as a short note (which I aim to do shortly).

Localidad del ejemplar © Teresa FarinoDistribution of Iberian Pycnogaster spp.
Pygnogaster jugicola, like all 8 members of the subfamily Pygnogastrinae (4 species of Bradygaster and 4 of Pycnogaster) recognised by the Orthoptera of Europe website, is endemic to the Iberian Peninsula.

NB Almost 400 species of Orthoptera have been recorded to date from the Spain and Portugal, including the Baleares and Macaronesia, so getting to grips with them will be a full time job, to say the least!

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