0331. Zoogeography of mole crickets (Orthoptera: Gryllotalpidae) in the West Indies.

J. H. Frank, Earl D. McCoy


Four species of mole crickets (Orthoptera: Gryllotalpidae) are known from the West Indies: Neocurtilla hexadactyla (Perty), Scapteriscus abbreviatus Scudder, S. didactylus (Latreille), and S. imitatus Nickle and Castner. All are adventive (not native). We document their distributions in West Indian islands/countries by use of records from the literature and examination of specimens. Scapteriscus abbreviatus has been suggested to have arrived in, and been transported about the West Indies in ship ballast (immigration). Based on records of arrival in various parts of the West Indies and the species’ inability to fly, this suggestion seems reasonable. Scapteriscus imitatus apparently was released in Puerto Rico as a result of mistaken identification (introduction – arriving with assistance from humans – although inadvertent), and has not expanded its range in the West Indies. Although the principal mode of dispersal for the other two species also has been suggested to be ship ballast, we present an alternative based on flight which would seem at least equally as plausible. We suggest that S. didactylus could have dispersed by flight from South America through the Lesser Antilles; likewise N. hexadactyla probably from the Yucatan Peninsula to Cuba, and from South America northward through the Lesser Antilles, in at least some localities assisted by wind. Our zoogeographical alternative, if correct, means that the natural range expansions of these latter two species began very long ago and without human assistance – they were not introduced recently to the West Indies.

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