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U.C. Riverside
Department of Entomology
Photo by: NI. Waggoner©
The Desert Clicker (Ligurotettix coquilletti) Order Orthoptera: Family Acrididae

 By Marcella Waggoner 

The desert clicker, Ligurotettix coquilletti, belongs to a group of short-horned grasshoppers called slant-faced grasshoppers (Gomphocerinae). Most slant-faced grasshoppers have distinctive slanting faces, which distinguishes them from most other short-horned grasshoppers. L. coquilletti is dark gray and varies from 18 - 25 mm. in length. Desert clickers are ordinary-looking grasshoppers, cryptically colored to match their background. Hind wings are transparent. Desert clickers are widespread from California to Texas and southward. Like other slant-faced grasshoppers, the desert clicker is usually found in small numbers and has a restricted range of plants on which it feeds. Most commonly, the desert clicker is found on slender gray stems of creosote bush (Larrea tridentata). They can also be found on mesquite (Prosopis spp.), jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis), allscale (Atriplex polycarpa), and sagebrush (Artemisia spp.). Desert clickers get their name from the repetitive acoustic territorial clicking displays (stridulations) of the males. Like other slant-faced grasshoppers, desert clickers have a row of stridulatory pegs on the inside of the hind femur that are used to produce noise. The male's sound is a low tsick-tsick sound that has a ventriloquistic quality and adds to the confusion when trying to find a single clicker. During the summer, males begin singing early in the morning and stop around 11 p.m. Singing is dependent on temperature and may cease early on cooler evenings. Male clickers are very sedentary and spend most of their adult lives in one creosote bush. Although secretive and hard to find, males can sometimes be observed defending an individual creosote bush. The defensive action begins with the adult male signaling his presence with loud stridulations. If these noisy performances do not deter an intruder, defensive behavior will escalate into overt aggressive action with the defending male chasing and fighting the intruder. The three part series of stridulation, chasing, and fighting will be repeated until the intruder wins the territory or is driven away. Females are attracted to the songs of males, but do not sing. Female clickers oviposit in bare soil in open areas away from the plants on which they feed. Eggs undergo diapause (dormancy) during the winter and typically hatch in March or April. Immature clickers undergo five or six nymphal stages. Look for adult desert clickers in May or early June.

                               

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