SAND GROPERS

Cylindracheta, Cylindraustralia and Cylindroryctes

 

Kochs sand groper

 

 

 

 

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Sand Groper is the nick name given to West Australians. Presumably stemming from the fact that there is so much sand over here. Other states also have nicknames, Queenslanders are called banana benders, South Australians are crow eaters, New South Welshman are corn stalks, Victorians are gum suckers or cabbage patchers and Tasmanians are mutton birds or apple islanders. As yet the only common nickname we have found for those residing in the Northern Territory is Territorians.

A friend of ours (Les Blom) who we first met at Cleaverville back in 1998 is known to enjoy the occasional bit of leg pulling and when he told us about an insect known as a sand groper with a big head and funny front legs, we were positive that we were being teased just a little bit and we didn't take him seriously.

It took quite a while for Les to find the object of his tale but he did finally get hold of one and present it to us to show that he wasn't having us on.

The following photo I took myself so I know it is genuine so we present 'The Sand Groper'. The modified front forelegs of this creature certainly look as if they are suitable for pushing through sand.

 

mole cricket

 

(Note: After looking this insect up we found that the correct name for it is a mole cricket. As it does spend plenty of time burrowing through sand I guess the colloquial name 'sand groper' is appropriate.)

Further research has turned up more information on these insects and the one pictured above, although commonly called a sand groper, is not actually the real thing.

Originally sand gropers were thought to be degenerate mole crickets but research has shown that genuine sand gropers are related to grass-hoppers not crickets and they have no vestigial wings and virtually no eyes.

Sand gropers were fist discovered in 1832 and there are 14 known species through-out Australia.

These insects are blamed by farmers for substantial crop damage but although they do eat plant material they are quite fond of nuisance plants like double-gees. They also eat other insects including spiders and termites and are known to be cannibalistic.

The larger species of sand gropers can grow up to 9 centimetres in length.

Sand gropers lay individual eggs in specially dug chambers up to 1.9 metres deep. Research into these insects is on going but they are thought to be long lived (5 years or more) and they were first thought to reproduce all year long. This turned out to be incorrect with eggs baing laid during the months of winter rainfall with hatching taking place around mid-summer.

Sand gropers produce a pungent odor from gland on their abdomen and this is thought to be a defence mechanism. This does not seem to deter birds from eating them as many are taken when fields are ploughed and the insects are brought to the surface.

 

 

 

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