|Image: Mark Yokoyama|
Well, this might be your best opportunity to make a bonsai mountain that's even smaller than the average molehill! Just don't make a big mountain out of your little mountain.
It's as if they went to the mole shop and said, "Do you have these in small? And I mean REALLY small."
Turns out they did.
|Image: Sergey Yeliseev|
European Mole Cricket (Gryllotalpa gryllotalpa)
Mole Crickets are built like a bullet train. Their pointy head and bulging thorax are heavily scleroticised, which means the exoskeleton is extra thick and hard to help the Mole Cricket plough its way through the soil.
|Image: George Chernilevsky|
Having put their best foot forward, the rest of the Mole Cricket's body pretty much stays out of the way. The soft abdomen is narrower than the thorax so that it can happily follow behind without snagging on the tunnel walls. The membranous flight wings are neatly folded up and hidden beneath more robust, leathery wings. And the legs are short and stocky so that they don't stick out too much. Even the long, jumpy legs we normally associate with crickets are too small to do any real jumping with.
It just sounds like very long coffin to me. And I wouldn't be seen dead in a coffin.
Video: Raoul Pop
But Mole Crickets don't want to be seen dead in their tunnels, either. They've got tunnels for all the important aspects of life. There are tunnels that serve as escape routes to run away from predators, tunnels that serve as foraging and dining areas, and tunnels for raising young and saying, "Welcome to my tunnel. Please, make yourself comfortable," to the opposite sex.
And it seems to have worked pretty well. There are more than 100 species of Mole Cricket, all belonging to the Gryllotalpidae family, and they're found in every continent except Antarctica.
|Image: Steven Mullin|
After a good meal, and maybe some running away from the beaks and jaws of monstrous predators, there comes the very important task of making more Mole Crickets.
|Image: Judy Gallagher|
Southern Mole Cricket (Scapteriscus borellii)
It might be a little more difficult to grow accustomed to the Mole Cricket's song, though. It's loud! Really, really loud. Males sing at night at the mouth of their burrow and it's enough to make the soil vibrate around them. It's said you can hear them from hundreds of metres away.
Video: Wim Spronk
Many Mole Crickets aren't satisfied with the volume attained from their own physical prowess. Oh no, they have to use their brainpower, engineering and acoustics to make it even LOUDER. And so they do some extra digging to turn the entrance of their burrow into a kind of twin trumpet to amplify the sound even further.
Females can't help but hear it and apparently it sounds pretty good to them. In fact, it's not loud enough. They want front row seats. So they fly to the male's burrow and say hello, love your work, I wondered if you wanted to, you know, hang out or whatever.
|Image: Mark Yokoyama|
Either way, the eggs hatch to reveal nymphs that look pretty much like tiny, wingless Mole Crickets. And what gladder sight for tiny eyes to see than the charming walls, pleasing earth, and reassuring claustrophobia of the underdark? I can think of a few things. I can think of a lot of things. But then I'm not a Mole Cricket.