Grigs Make Poor Pets

Last week I visited UBC-O in Kelowna for CSEE 2013. It was a fantastic conference; the symposia I attended were informative, the talks were great, I met lots of interesting people, and had some amazing discussions about science, life, the universe & everything.

C. buckelli female

C. buckelli female exploring some linoleum.

The evening after the banquet a friend and I followed Hump-winged Grig collector extraordinaire (and all ’round great fellow & scientist) Kevin Judge up a hill behind the UBC-O campus to capture some of these tremendously charismatic creatures. The evening air was abuzz with the songs of lovesick males.

Grigs are closely related crickets, but their songs are quite different. While crickets make a sort of ‘criiiiiiiiiiick criiiiiiiiiiick criiiiiiiiiiick criiiiiiiiiiick’ sound, grigs’ stridulations  sound more like ‘TRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII~IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIILLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL’. The song is astonishingly long and shrill. Luckily for us, this makes the males relatively easy to find.

Triumphant and thrilled, I tromped back to the residences with a male Cyphoderris buckelli enclosed in one hand and a female in the other, determined to keep my new insect-friends as pets.

When I returned to Vancouver I cleaned out Hypatia‘s old terrarium and filled the bottom with soil from the pet store.



I buried a modified egg carton, hoping the female might use it as the base of a burrow and perhaps even raise more little grigs. Kevin told me that parental care had been predicted in this species, so I was keen to see if I could observe anything. I cut the carton to have a hole in the side and buried it against the side of the terrarium so I could try to peer in.

Then I released my new friends to their new home.

I awoke that night to my partner desperately trying to figure out which of his electronics sounded like it was about to explode and/or take flight. “TRIIIIIILLLLLLLLLLL”. Oops. I forgot to mention to him that grigs sing.

I moved the terrarium onto my balcony, but even through the sliding glass door, my noisy little friend made his presence felt across 3 consecutive restless nights.

My pair of grig friends are now enjoying their new home in the laboratory where they will only be communicating with each other.