Grasshoppers and crickets are in trouble

More than a quarter of Europe’s insects of the Orthoptera order are at risk of extinction. 

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Adriatic Marbled Bush-cricket
Adriatic Marbled Bush-cricket © Axel Hochkirch

Experts assessed the conservation status of grasshopper, cricket and bush-cricket species found across Europe for a IUCN report.  

They discovered that more than 25 per cent of the 1,082 species studied were at risk of extinction due to intensive agriculture, wildfires and tourism development.

“Europe’s rapidly changing landscape is affecting many species,” said Jean-Christophe Vié of the IUCN Global Species Programme, “including insects we are so familiar with, such as crickets and grasshoppers.”

This group of insects - known as Orthoptera - are indicators of ecosystem health and an important food source for many birds and reptiles.

There are no species of Orthoptera in the UK that are considered threatened in Europe, but a number of them are considered Endangered or Vulnerable on a national level.

A notable example is the wart-biter, a large bush-cricket measuring up to 37mm in length, which is only found at a couple of sites in southern England.

The wart-biter was once widespread, but habitat change has caused a population decline and it is now considered to be Endangered within the UK.

Read more wildlife news stories in BBC Wildlife Magazine

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