Reporting in the journal American Midland Naturalist, a team of researchers led by Steven J. Taylor, an entomologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, reported that the crickets, Ceuthophilus secretus, journey at night in high numbers up to 80 meters (262 feet) from the entrances of central Texas caves. A few crickets traveled up to 105 meters (344 feet) to feed.
Previous research indicated that most crickets stay within 50 meters (164 feet) from their caves. As part of the formula for a buffer zone proposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a range for cricket foraging was recommended. The buffer zone also extends outward to control for the effects of invasive red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta Buren). The buffer-zone formula helps to guide where to apply treatment applications against the ants.
Buffer zones are designed to help maintain a healthy vegetative community, including woodland and grassland species, around cave entrances to protect cave life from disturbance, including that created by encroaching urban development.
"Our findings suggest that a relatively large area may be needed to protect the crickets' foraging area and to shield them from fire ants," Taylor said. "Based on the foraging range we saw, we believe that cave resource managers may wish to create buffers around the footprint of a cave -- not just the entrance. It could be that there are other small openings that allow crickets to leave caves on their way to forage."
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has listed 16 cave invertebrates including a variety of sp
Contact: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign