A&M undergraduates discover species of king cricket in Costa Rica

Four undergraduates from Texas A&M University’s Department of Entomology have discovered a new species of king cricket during a recent study abroad trip to Costa Rica.

Under the guidance of Associate Professor Hojun Song, students Steven Richardson, Travis Trimm, Randell Paredes and Jonathan Koehl described a new species of king cricket, Glaphyrosoma stephanosoltis, Orthoptera Anostostomatidae, from the tropical rainforests near the Soltis Center for Research and Education in San Isidro.

“Last year, these four students worked with a king cricket species that was very common in the forest floors near the Soltis Center,” Song said. “While working on their project, it became evident that the species, which was so abundant, was actually new to science because we couldn’t identify them down to species.”

The students’ discovery was recorded in the journal Zootaxa in September. The group found the new species while working on a research project about cricket feeding habits during a two-week course titled “Field Entomology in the Tropics” last summer.

The crickets were hand-collected along the trails in the secondary rainforest near the Soltis Center.

Song said the group then brought the cricket specimens back to his lab in College Station, and throughout the fall semester, he taught the students how to properly describe the new species by reviewing taxonomic literature, taking photographs, measuring specimens and illustrating the important features.

The first author of the publication, Richardson, proposed the new species to be named after the Soltis Center. The species name “stephanosoltis” means “the Crown of Soltis” referring to the first king cricket species ever to be described in conjunction with the Soltis Center. 

According to the paper, the new species of crickets represents the southernmost distribution of the genus Glaphyrosoma Brunner von Wattenwyl that is widely distributed throughout Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras. This new species is distributed throughout the Alajuela Province on the rainforest floor in the northernmost part of Costa Rica.

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