WART-BITER BUSH CRICKET

Decticus verrucivorus 

Decticus verrucivorus - Wart-biter.jpg

A large dark green cricket with visible dark blotches on the upper body.

  • Rarity: In Great Britain it is extremely localised and restricted to southern England where just five populations are now known.

  • Cause of decline: The crickets require a complex mixture of bare ground and long and short turf, on chalk grassland. This habitat, and the forms of management which produce these specific conditions, have declined, along with several insects that rely on them.

The Wart-biter Bush-cricket was once used exactly as the name suggests, as a method for removing warts. The cricket would be placed next to the affected area and it would slowly attempt to chew off the wart. This method is in fact ineffective, but was widely practised nevertheless.

Sadly, if we wanted to try this today, we would be seriously constrained by the incredible rarity of the species. It is now found at only a handful of sites in the UK, and in relatively low numbers at many of these sites, which makes it highly vulnerable to extinction. The cricket also has very specific habitat requirements which make it vulnerable to any deterioration in habitat quality.

The cricket has very specific habitat needs which can be difficult to maintain. This means that regular habitat work is often required on its sites. We have been working with Kent Wildlife Trust for several years to protect the population at Lydden Temple Ewell in Kent, and to ensure that the habitat remains suitable. 

In 2020, we undertook considerable habitat work at Lydden Temple Ewell, clearing large areas of scrub from the key areas where the crickets are found. We hope that this will allow the population to expand in 2021.