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Grand Teton National Park Report

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The sagebrush cricket, Cyphoderris strepitans is one of only five extant species belonging to an ancient insect lineage, the Haglidae, believed to be ancestral to modern-day crickets and katydids (Orthoptera: Ensifera) (Morris and Gwynne 1978, Vickery 1989). C. strepitans occurs exclusively in mountainous areas of Wyoming and Colorado, where it is found primarily in high-altitude sagebrush meadow habitat. Adults become sexually active in May, shortly after snow melt, and remain active for the next 4-6 weeks. Pair formation is mediated through acoustic signaling by males, which functions to attract sexually receptive females (Snedden and Sakaluk 1992). Copulation is initiated when a receptive female climbs onto the dorsum of a male, at which time he attempts to transfer a spermatophore. During copulation, the female feeds on the male's fleshy hindwings and bodily fluids leaking from the wounds she inflicts, behavior which constitutes a form of courtship feeding (Dodson et al. 1983, Sakaluk et al. 1987, Morris et al. 1989, Sakaluk and Snedden 1990). At the same time, the female is secured by the male's abdominal pinching organ, a device known as a "gin trap" (Morris 1979). The gin trap of a male C. strepitans consists of two pairs of recurved spines, one pair directed anteriorally and the other posteriorally, located on the 10th and 8th tergites, respectively. The spines are brought together, pinching the female's abdomen, as the male's tergites are telescoped inward during his attempts to secure genitalic contact (Morris 1979). Although the gin trap clearly serves a reproductive role, its precise functional significance remains unknown; comparable reproductive structures are not known from any other family of the Orthoptera.