The Armoured ground cricket Acantholpus discoidalis is considered a crop pest in the southern African countries of Botswana, Namibia and south Africa. When fully grown an adult of this flightless species may be three inches long and encased with thick armour plates and sharp barbs. They are defensive and have a rather painful bite.
There are many other names attributed to this species including Armoured bush cricket, Corn cricket, Gobabis prawn, Endindi and Koringkriek.
Armoured ground crickets have the bizarre ability to spray haemolymph (their blood) from their abdomens and this deters at least three species of lizard. When deprived of protein and salt A. discoidalis can become cannibalistic. The ability to autohaemorrhage also has a downside as this can encourage other individuals to attack and cannibalise them, this happens in captivity when kept in large groups!
A. discoidalis is a wonderful, albeit strange addition to the order Orthoptera and we at the Butterfly Farm are very pleased with our new colony.