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Gryllotalpa major The Prairie Mole Cricket

Gryllotalpa major, is the largest cricket in North America. The Tallgrass Prairie where it lives once extended over most of the Eastern Great Plains. Today, the Tallgrass Prairie is estimated to have less than one percent of the original range remaining intact. In 1984 the Prairie Mole Cricket was thought to be extinct. However, populations were discovered to be more common than previously though after surveying took place, primarily in Rogers County Oklahoma.

In 1990 Gryllotalpa was found in other areas of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri and Kansas. The species was proposed as Threatened as opposed to Endangered under the Endangered Species Act because of insufficient information. Today, little more is known about the range and population size of our largest cricket and the species is no longer up for listing under the ESA.

G. major has two unique behavioral characteristics for mating. First, it constructs a burrow specially made to amplify the sounds of the male cricket's calling. Second, this is thought to be the only species in its order to practice Lekking.

Males aggregate in burrows 6-9 feet apart and begin calling to females thirty minutes before sunset and continue for ninety minutes afterwards. With the amplification the burrow provides the sound of the call can be heard as far as 400 meters away. This would help researchers find populations in the breeding season, but to date no large scale survey is know. It is unfortunate that so little is known about one of our largest insects. Our lack of understanding is exemplified by the fact that we thought they were extinct because of the great reduction of the Tallgrass Prairie habitat. However, in 1993 viable populations were found to be surviving on ranch land. Even still, further searching did not prove this pattern ubiquitous

Development is a threat to Gryllotalpa major . More of these crickets were found on roadsides when surveying took place to widen a Highway 20 between Proy and Claremore, Oklahoma in 1990. Despite the rare discovery the project went on as planned. The original county where they were rediscovered, Rogers, is the second fastest growing county in the state. In order to ensure the survival of the Prairie mole Cricket researchers must discover their true habitat preference and preserve it if need be, or the species may go extinct permanently this time.


Caire, William et al. 1993. Notes on the Ecology of the Prairie Mole Cricket, Gryllotalpa major in Northeastern Oklahoma. Proceedins of the Oklahoma Academy of Sciences. 73, 73-75.


Written by: Joshua Hannam, 2004

Updated: Eric Denemark, 2008

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