Grasshoppers are recruited as climate change scouts
The sound of grasshoppers chirping and clicking their legs is going to be used to help track climate change.
Grasshoppers and bush crickets are going to be pubically monitored in Britain to record sightings of all 27 native species based on the idea that scientists can follow the spread of harlequin ladybirds.
The harlequin, an invasive species that competes with and often eats native ladybirds, arrived from the Continent in 2004 and has spread rapidly.
The public reporting system that was introduced to monitor the ladybird is regarded by researchers as an outstanding success and they now intend to use it to find out how climate change is affecting other insects.
Climate change is driving insects and other creatures to find new places to live as temperatures rise too high for their comfort or make it possible for them to move into a previously unfavoured area. Grasshoppers and crickets are regarded as ideal for the project because they are easily picked out by the public from the huge array of other insects and are among the “most charismatic” of the nation’s creepy-crawlies.
Researchers are convinced that once members of the public “get their eye in” they will be able to spot all 27 species, along with a handful of foreign visitors.
Even if telling the difference between a wart-biter bush cricket and the large marsh grasshopper proves too much to manage on a stroll in the countryside, enthusiasts taking part can send photographs for experts to identify.
Butterfiles are the primary indicators of climate change because they are among the most visible and well-known.
Greasshoppers and crickets however are more sensitive to climate change.
More than 60,000 records of ladybirds were generated by the Harlequin Ladybird Survey, 20,000 of the invasive species and a further 40,000 of native ladybirds.
Helen Roy, of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, said of the harlequin reporting scheme: “It’s been such a great way to get people involved and we got high-quality data.
It is thought higher temperatures are a factor in detecting climate change.