The Cave Cricket (Phaeophilacris bredoides) is an insect that looks like a spider, but it is related to the grasshopper.
The Cave Cricket has three segments: head, thorax, and abdomen. It is yellowish-grey to brown with a long body, long antennae and long hind legs (back legs). Its legs are covered with small, dark spots. It needs long antennae to feel surfaces and its prey in the dark. It has three pairs of legs (6 legs) with one pair of antennae, and a pair of false legs near its tail to act as stabilizers.
The female Cave Cricket is flightless, without wings. The male Cave Cricket only has an upper pair of wings (the lower pair of wings is missing). Its upper pair of wings has a smooth surface.
It measures 2-5 centimetres (1-2 inches) long.
The Cave Cricket is native to southern Africa. It is nocturnal, and only lives in dark caves and dark crevices, and is active at night. It also lives in cellars, under stones, or in wood.
Adult male Cave Crickets are territorial, and will try to keep other males away from their territory.
It eats small insects.
The Cave Cricket does not sing or make a sound, because it does not have a tympanum (a drum-like structure). Instead of the male singing to attract a partner, it performs wing flicks instead.
Female Cave Crickets have a long needle-like ovipositor to lay 1-5 eggs at a time in moist soil. The eggs hatch into larvae after 4-8 weeks, depending on the temperature of the cave. The larvae (grubs) take about 10 months to grow into an adult cricket, moulting its outer shell several times as it grows.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM