Orthoptera of North Carolina
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Gryllus fultoni (Alexander, 1957) - Southern Wood Cricket


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Taxonomy
Family: Gryllidae Subfamily: Gryllinae Tribe: GrylliniSynonym: Acheta fultoni
Comments: One of eighteen species in this genus that occur in North America north of Mexico (Walker, 2017), six of which have been recorded in North Carolina.
Species Status: Recognized as a distinct form of Gryllus assimilis -- the Wood Cricket -- by Fulton (1952), who also recognized three other, reproductively isolated forms differing in habitats, morphologies, phenologies, and songs. All four were ultimately described as separate species by Alexander (1957).
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Capinera et al. (2006; not illustrated)Online Photographs: SINA; Songs of Insects, Google ImagesTechnical Description, Adults/Nymphs: Alexander (1957)SINA 484a.htm                                                                                  
Comments: Tegmina always brown; hind femora reddish or pale and the hind tibiae are also pale (Alexander, 1957). Lacks the red spots that are usually present on the sides of the pronotum in G. rubens, the other species most likely to be found in our area as adults in the spring and early summer.
Total Length [body plus wings; excludes ovipositor]: 15.8 mm, male; 16.5, female (Holotype and Allotype, Alexander, 1957)
Structural Features: The pronotum is widest at the rear edge and the head of the male is definitely narrower than the pronotum (Alexander, 1957). Only short-winged forms have been observed, with the hindwings incapable of flight (Alexander, 1957; Weisman and Gray, 2019). Cerci are yellow and the tips of tegmina of the females are typically separated (Weisman and Gray).
Singing Behavior: Male song consists of a series of chirps, i.e., short series of downslured pulses. In fultoni, chirps are shorter than in our other chirping species -- firmus, pennsylvanicus, and veletis -- consisting typically or two to three pulses, usually less than four, and the number of chirps per second much higher, ranging from 5-7 per second (Alexander, 1957). The dominant frequency is around 4.5 kHz at 76.1 degrees F, which is similar to that of pennsylvanica but higher than in firmus (SINA, 2017).
Recording playback at normal speed.

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Distribution in North Carolina
County Map: Clicking on a county returns the records for the species in that county.
Adult Dates:
 High Mountains (HM) ≥ 4,000 ft.
 Low Mountains (LM) < 4,000 ft.
 Piedmont (Pd)
 Coastal Plain (CP)

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Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Occurs primarily in woodlands (Fulton, 1951; Alexander, 1957), but can also be heard singing in the edges of fields adjoining forests, at sites where G. rubens is singing close by (S. Hall, pers. obs.)
Diet: Probably omnivorous
Observation Methods: Most easily found by song, which males produce both day and night
Abundance/Frequency: Usually heard singing in moderate densities
Adult Phenology: Males start singing in early April and persist until early July. Only veletis of our chirping species has a similar phenology; the others sing in the fall.
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: [G5] S5
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands
Comments: Appears to be widespread in the Piedmont and associated with common types of habitat; appears to be secure within the state

Image Gallery for Gryllus fultoni - Southern Wood Cricket

Recorded by: Steve Hall
Orange Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Steve Hall, Dee Stuckey, and Savannah Hall
Orange Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Jim Petranka
Madison Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Steve Hall and Bo Sullivan
Scotland Co.
Comment: 1 or two males heard at edge of woodlands
Recorded by: Steve Hall
Rockingham Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Steve Hall, Savannah Hall, Cordell Buckingham
Durham Co.
Comment: Two males singing within a few feet of one another. 20:00, 77 F; mesic hardwood forest
Recorded by: Steve Hall
Orange Co.
Comment: Recorded out in a field close to where Gryllus rubens was also singing (constant trill in the background at about the same pitch)

MP3 Gallery for Gryllus fultoni - Southern Wood Cricket

1 Recorded by: Jim Petranka
Madison Co.
2021-04-27
Individuals were singing along a moved roadway at the interface of the grassy area and brushy area on the bank; F. rubens was calling along the same stretch on road. Recorded at 81 degrees; 5-6 chirps per second; 3 pulses per chirp; around 4,000 KHZ.