The Greek Magician

Saga hellenica

The Greek Magician (Saga hellenica), one of the six Saga species that occur in Europe, is a large bush cricket belonging to the family Tettigonidae. It is easily distinguished from other species in the family and once seen it cannot be mistaken for anything else. The "Magician" is a flightless, predatory species that feeds on other grasshoppers and crickets and it occurs in grassy habitats such as meadows and cultivated fields. The male and female are more or less of equal size and appearance but the male is somewhat smaller, usually between 4,8 - 7,6 cm while the female is between 5,5 - 7,8 cm long. The male has small, rudimentary wings that he uses for stridulating to attract the females and he obviously also lacks the ovipositor. The females are often found walking on the roads at night during late summer searching for prey and places to lay their eggs. It is during this period that it is easiest to spot them and both the size of the insect and its typical gait, that resembles that of a chameleon, quickly gives it away. The eggs of the "Magician" are incubated for two years before they hatch. The males are not as easily spotted but are occasionally seen during the day in the summer. Saga hellenica is primarily a ground dwelling species but it sometimes climb on to grasses and low bushes. It can be found all over Greece except in the far north-east and it also has been reported to occur in Albania and the Republic of Macedonia. There is a second Saga species found in Greece,  the partenogenetic Saga pedo, but this species has not been reported from Corfu.

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