Anostostomatidae

The wetas and king crickets are now grouped in this family. This family is represented by species from almost all parts of the world, and it is especially diverse in the southern hemisphere. These are large orthopterans, which live in humid forested habitats. Suburbanization in some regions of the world has increased their access to peridomestic habitats.

Aboreal tree weta, Hemideina thoracica, H. trewicki, H. crassidens, H. femorata Adults are 40-60 mm long. The body is smooth and shiny, and the abdomen has bands of contrasting brown and pale brown. Wings are absentand the upper side of the hind tibiae has large subapical spines. Femoroab-dominal stridulatory apparatus is well developed; the abdominal stridulatory area has ridges. These weta normally live in galleries thathave initially been excavated by cerambycid wood-boring larvae (Ochrocydus hutoni) or hepialid lepidoptera larvae (Aenetus virescens); they also live in natural cavities in trees. Most favored plants are manuka (Leptospermum scoparium), kanuka (Kunzea ericoides), ngaio (Myoporum laetum), and mahoe (Meli-cytus ramiflorus). They are primarily herbivorous, but feed on living and recently dead invertebrates. Their galleries and foraging activity are usually above ground, but females oviposit in soil. These species are distributed in New Zealand, where they commonly occur in urban hedges and gardens. H. thoracica is widespread.

King cricket, Henicus monstrosus Adult male is about 25 mm long and dark brown to blackish brown. The head is large and the mandibles are large, broad, and curved, and they have four small teeth at the tip. The female is about 52 mm long and light brown. Wings are absent and the ovipositor is short and curved. This species lives in burrows in the ground during the day and forges at night. Adults stridulate by moving their mandibles and maxillae together. This species is found in domestic gardens and on sandy beaches along the southern African coast. Adults excavate burrows in gardens and turfgrass lawns.

Parktown prawn, Libanasidus vittatus Adult females are about 64 mm long; the ovipositor is 19 mm long and the entire insect may be 166 mm long. Males have very large mandibular tusks, which arise as anterior outgrowths of the mandibles. Males use the mandibles to dig their burrows, and in disputes with other males. These insects stridulate by rubbing the lateral abdominal pads against the modified inner surfaces of the femora. Tibial ears are visible on the front legs. Eggs are deposited singly in damp soil; the female inserts her ovipositor for each egg; fecundity is about 200 eggs. Oviposition is in the fall and eggs or nymphs overwinter. Adults and nymphs feed on slugs, snails, and other insects, including caterpillars such as cutworms. The natural habitatis in burrows under logs in forested areas in Mpumalanga and Northern province of South Africa, and probably Zimbabwe. This species is called the Parktown prawn, because adults accidentally occur in swimming pools in the (Parktown) suburbs of Johannesburg. They also enter houses and, when disturbed, they often jump on to people. They have foul-smelling feces. This species has generated several myths, mostly related to their sudden prominence in the 1960s. It is probable that they were originally present in the region in low numbers and environmental changes and urbanization (suburban spread) and gardens led to an increase in numbers and range.

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