It had been an exceptionally busy night, spent in the company of a virgin.
He had gone in search of a mate yesterday evening, working hard to attract female attention by rubbing his wings together – or stridulating if you want to get technical.
He rejected several plump females who responded to his calls, for the wily Armoured Ground Cricket knew that virgin crickets were slender little beauties.
Why a preference for a virgin? Because a first timer will mate once and lay her eggs, whereas the old pros mate and lay their eggs randomly. By sticking to the svelte virgins, he knew that a higher proportion of the offspring would be his.
When a slim young thing eventually turned up last night, he stridulated ardently and offered her his nuptial gift of a food sack together with his sperm pouch. She proved receptive and he carefully attached the spermatophore close to her genital opening.
However, having lost around 20% of his body weight, he needed to replenish his energy levels. It was sunrise.
He staggered off in search of a meal. His appetite was eclectic, but he was partial to bird nestlings and headed across the desert scrub towards some likely looking shrubs.
In his weakened state, progress was slow, making him vulnerable. At almost 3 inches long, detection by predators was difficult to avoid.
When the lizard attacked and grabbed him, the cricket mobilised his defences and autohaemorrhaged, squirting pale green, acrid smelling blood into the lizard’s face. The predator immediately dropped him and scurried off in disgust.
|Armoured Ground Cricket, Morocco|
The cricket climbed wearily onto a black rubber car tyre, perhaps in a bid to camouflage itself.
When the humans started to show an interest in him, he watched and waited. He didn’t have it in him to autohaemorrage again, but if that finger moved any closer he would unleash his final defence mechanism and vomit up his last meal all over it.