Sunday 12 May 2019

Sound of summer in South Downs saved as conservationists create new field cricket colonies

Published: 14:45 Thursday 02 May 2019

The South Downs remains the last bastion in the UK for the field cricket, known for that quintessential ‘cheep, cheep, cheep’ sound of summer.

To save this iconic species from extinction, conservation groups have joined forces to fight to protect it by building six new colonies across Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire.

A task force, working under special licence, has been carefully capturing and transferring small numbers of male and female pairs to new heathland sites, an extremely special habitat that is even rarer than the rainforest.

Mike Edwards, an entomologist with expert knowledge, said: “The field cricket is a remarkable, flightless insect that has really been in trouble for the last century due to changes in land use and forestry reducing its heathland habitat significantly.

“It’s a creature that is synonymous with the South Downs, having inspired the great 18th century naturalist Gilbert White to write of the ‘field-crickets calling on the edges of the heaths of Surrey and Sussex’ in his diaries.

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