By Simon Norman 26th June 2024

David Williams has written and illustrated a new AIDGAP guide to the grasshoppers, bush-crickets, groundhoppers and earwigs of Wales, Scotland, Ireland and England north of a line from Gloucester to Ipswich. It’s available for a special earlybird price of just £10 if ordered by 31 July 2024.

July, August and September are the peak months to look for grasshoppers, bush-crickets and groundhoppers (Order Orthoptera) and earwigs (Order Dermaptera). Grasshoppers and bush-crickets overwinter as eggs, hatch as nymphs in spring, then mature as adults from June to August, persisting until the first frosts. Adult males can be heard singing from early June onwards.

Hugging the south coast

The grasshoppers and allies are rather a heat-loving group of insects. So it’s no surprise that Britain and Ireland are home to a mere fraction of the more than 20,000 species found worldwide. Moreover a sizeable minority of British and Irish species are only found in favourable locations near to the south coast. Although these southern species feature prominently in field guides, many naturalists are unlikely to find them on their local patch.

For example, here are three species included in identification guides that you are unlikely to find in most of Britain or Ireland. (Source: NBN Atlas)

But this guide is different

orthoptera and dermaptera

The AIDGAP guide to Orthoptera and Dermaptera shows only those species found in central and northern Britain, plus all of Ireland.

  • 28 species (all 3 groundhoppers, 10 grasshoppers, 10 bush-crickets, Scaly Cricket and all 4 earwings)
  • Geographic coverage: all Wales, all Scotland, all Ireland, England north of a line roughly from north Gloucestershire to the Essex-Suffolk border
  • No specimen preparation needed: designed for identification of live specimens in the field
  • Concise written account for each species, including key identification features, habitat, distribution and song
  • Page of photographs for each species, showing male, female, nymphs, colour variation (where applicable) and details of key features

Orthoptera and Dermaptera are under-recorded

Despite their wide distribution and ecological importance, grasshoppers, bush-crickets, groundhoppers and earwigs are relatively under-recorded. In particular 3 out of the 4 earwigs are poorly known across much of the country. So there is plenty of scope for new discoveries, including new county records.

Want to record grasshoppers and allies? The Biological Records Centre have an up-to-date Targeting Revisits map for this group. You can zoom in the map and browse for target 1km squares in any part of Britain or Ireland. Here are a few under-recorded areas…

Another important reason to drive up Orthoptera and Dermaptera recording is that, over the last 25 years, several species have steadily spread northwards. Both Roesel’s Bush-cricket and Long-winged Conehead were restricted to southerly coasts in the 1980s. In recent years a new northern-most record is made each summer. These species now spreading into northern Lancashire, North Yorkshire and County Durham.

Records of Orthoptera and Dermaptera can be submitted to iRecord, including through the free-of-charge iRecord Grasshoppers app for iOS and for Android.

Finally, did you know that you can identify grasshoppers and bush-crickets to species from their songs? Sound recordings are built-in to the iRecord Grasshoppers app. Or alternatively you can browse the recordings at the Recording scheme website. For example, one of our commonest species is the Field Grasshopper Chorthippus brunneus.

To help us all appreciate and enjoy biodiversity and better understand the changing state of nature the Field Studies Council produces a wide range of high quality identification resources, available to buy from our online shop.