Great Grig: All You Need to Know for a Fun Encounter

The Great Migration is a significant historical event that occurred in the United States between 1910 and 1970. Approximately six million Black individuals moved from the American South to the Northern, Midwestern, and Western states seeking better educational and economic opportunities. This mass movement was driven by the search for an improved quality of life away from the oppressive conditions of the Jim Crow South.

During this period, the African American population underwent profound changes, including the formation of tight-knit communities in the urban areas to which they migrated. The Great Migration also contributed to the rise of prominent Black artists, writers, and musicians in the North, fueling the Harlem Renaissance and similar cultural movements across the country.

Some key events that catalyzed the Great Migration were the boll weevil infestations of Southern cotton crops, increased wartime production in the North during World War I and World War II, and the widespread availability of information about opportunities in the urban centers through African American newspapers. In this article, you will learn more about the major factors that influenced this remarkable moment in history, as well as some of the enduring effects of the Great Migration on American society.

Habitat and Distribution

Coniferous Forests

The Great Grig thrives in coniferous forests where they find their preferred habitat. Some of the common tree species found in these forests include:

  • Lodgepole pine
  • Mountain hemlock
  • Engelmann spruce

These trees provide the ideal environment for the Great Grig due to their specific characteristics.

Range in North America

The Great Grig can be found throughout a range in North America, specifically in British Columbia and other parts of Canada. Their distribution in these areas can be attributed to the abundance of coniferous forests which provide ample habitat.

Tree Species Great Grig Preference
Lodgepole pine Most Common
Mountain hemlock Moderately Common
Engelmann spruce Least Common

In summary, the Great Grig’s habitat is primarily in coniferous forests, and their range in North America features a significant presence in British Columbia. The varying preference for different tree species in these forests offers unique opportunities for sightings and further study of this fascinating insect.

Identification and Characteristics

Size and Body Length

The Great Grig (Cyphoderris monstrosa) belongs to the genus Cyphoderris within the family of Hump-winged Crickets (Prophalangopsidae). These unique insects are characterized by their short wings and small body size.

  • Body length: Typically less than 3 cm (1.2 inches)

Diagnostic Characteristics

The Great Grig has several distinct features that set it apart from other arthropods within the Orthoptera order, such as grasshoppers and sagebrush grigs:

  • Wings: Short and flightless with reduced wings called tegmina
  • Female wings: Appearing as small oval lobes
  • Male wings: Developed for loud stridulation (singing)
  • Distinctive hump: Present on their back, a characteristic of Hump-winged Crickets
Feature Great Grig Sagebrush Grig
Body Length Less than 3 cm (1.2 inches) Similar
Wings Short, flightless (tegmina) Fully developed
Stridulation (singing) Males only, loud stridulation No stridulation
Hump on the back Yes No

In summary, Great Grigs can be easily identified by their small size, flightless wings, and hump-winged appearance. Male Great Grigs possess the ability to sing using their well-developed wings, which is a unique feature when compared to other insects in the Orthoptera order.

Behavior and Diet

Feeding Habits

Great Grig, an insect belonging to the cricket family, is known for its unique feeding habits. These crickets are typically found in leaf litter and tree trunks and are active at night. The main diet of Great Grigs consists of:

  • Fruit
  • Leaves
  • Smaller insects

Examples of their food sources are apples, pears, and various tree foliage.

Mating Behavior

The mating behavior of Great Grigs includes elements of reproductive characteristics and territorial displays. Here are some unique aspects of their mating:

  • Male Grigs establish territory to attract females
  • Males produce distinct songs to attract mates
  • Mating usually occurs in spring and summer months

Singing and Stridulation

Singing and stridulation are essential aspects of the Great Grig’s communication, especially for mating purposes. They employ tegmina-based stridulation, which differentiates them from grasshoppers that use tibia-based stridulation.

Comparison of Great Grigs and Grasshoppers in terms of singing:

Aspect Great Grigs Grasshoppers
Stridulation Tegmina-based Tibia-based
Predominant Time Night Day
Song Purpose Mating, Territory Mating, Defense

Great Grigs are found mainly in the Montana range and are known for their specific singing patterns as a part of their reproductive behavior. Their singing is easily distinguished, making them a fascinating subject for entomologists and nature enthusiasts alike.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Great Grig

 

Jerusalem Cricket/Potato Bug
Location:  Spokane, WA
October 2, 2010 2:48 am
Hello! Thanks to your website, I was able to identify a bug I’ve seen several times in my life, and seriously creeped out by.
I clean an elementary school in a rural area, and always find them in the tiled bathrooms far from any outside doors. I wonder what it is they are looking for…water? Somewhere cool?
These are very hearty creatures I have also discovered. One time, visiting in the Sierra Mountains, I got up in the morning to put on my shoes. A bit later I realized I had a rather uncomfortable rock in my shoe, but was unable to stop what I was doing to remove. Roughly half hour later, I pulled off my shoe and slapped the heel into the palm of my hand catching a really angry Jerusalem Cricket. I then promptly flipped out completely, flinging the insect in the air and released a piercing scream. I was completely taken by surprise something that size survived under my foot. Since that day, I have to say, it’s been on my mind what that insect was.
Thanks again for the great site with the awesome information!
Corey
Spokane,Washington
Signature:  Corey Douglas

Great Grig

Hi Corey,
Jerusalem Crickets and your insect, a Great Grig,
Cyphoderris monstrosa, are all in the same suborder Ensifera, the Longhorned Orthopterans, but they are in different families.  The Great Grig has a much more limited range, as it is only found in the Pacific Northwest.  According to BugGuide, Great Grigs are found in:  “coniferous forests containing Lodgepole Pine, Englemann Spruce, and Mountain Hemlock; adults hide beneath leaf litter during the day, and become active at night, climbing tree trunks and continuing high into the branches to feed, sing (males), and mate.”

Letter 2 – Great Grig

 

British Columbia Insect
We found the attached bug in a campsite in a pine forest near Princeton, BC. It was about an inch long, and when we poked it (gently, of course), it flipped onto its back. In the hour or so we watched it, it didn’t move at all, aside from the backflips. I’ve tried to identify it online, but the closest match I’ve been able to find is a Mormon cricket, and this one looks slightly different and doesn’t have the long ovipositor. Any ideas what it might be? Thanks very much,
Chris

Hi Chris,
This is a wonderful contribution to our site. This creature is a Great Grig, Cyphoderris monstrosa. Grigs are in the family Prophalangopsidae, the Hump Winged Crickets. They are in the suborder Ensifera or Long Horned Orthopterans that includes Katydids, Potato Bugs, and Crickets, but taxonomically, they are a distinct group. We have only received one other photo in the past, and it has been alone on our Grig page until now.

Letter 3 – Great Grig

 

An intruder in my tent
This one was in my tent at Wilcox Creek Campsite in the Canadian Rockies, in mid-August. It moved quite slowly and did not attempt to fly. The nearest thing I have found on the web is a rove beetle, but nothing matches completely. Can you help…..

We found your Great Grig, Cyphoderris monstrosa, on BugGuide. Elsewhere on BugGuide, Eric Eaton refers to it as a Humpbacked Grig and states: “They are most closely related to katydids and crickets, but are in a family all to themselves (Prophalangopsidae). The genus is Cyphoderris.” Your letter was a good reason to create a brand new page for our site.

Letter 4 – Great Grig

 

What is this?
Location: North Eastern Washington, US
June 5, 2011 11:08 am
I was relocating some wild strawberries, when I came across this big fat little guy. The area he was found in was damp and dark in a heavily weeded spot. I live in a mountainous area with lots of pine trees. It’s June, middle of spring. I don’t know if you can see well enough from the pictures, but I’ve noticed that most cricket’s hind legs are usually long, with the leg’s bend raised up higher than the body. This guy’s hind legs are shorter than the average cricket. He’s got the hair/frills or spikes on the front legs like a cricket would. His body is very fat! He was about 2 inches in length. He’s wasn’t aggressive or defensive in any way. I was able to pet him! Your help in identifying is grately appreciated!
Signature: Khaadim

Great Grig

Dear Khaadim,
We believe this is a Great Grig, which goes by the intimidating scientific name
Cyphoderris monstrosa.  If you look at the images on BugGuide, we believe you will agree with us.  BugGuide describes the habitat as “coniferous forests containing Lodgepole Pine, Englemann Spruce, and Mountain Hemlock; adults hide beneath leaf litter during the day, and become active at night, climbing tree trunks and continuing high into the branches to feed, sing (males), and mate” and that fits your description.

Letter 5 – Great Grig

 

Subject: Found on our tent! (Cicada with out wings?)
Location: Gifford Pinchot National Forest 15 miles NE from Carson WA
July 9, 2012 11:50 am
We found this big guy (or gal) under the rain cover of our tent in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Any idea what it is?! It was about 4 inches long (not including the antennae)!
Signature: g. hoyt

Great Grig

Dear g. hoyt,
We always love posting photos of the Great Grig
, Cyphoderris monstrosa, because we love the name so much.  These Hump Winged Crickets are found in the Pacific Northwest.  We just learned on BugGuide that the Great Grig has another common name that might be even more interesting, the Monster Haglid.  We would love to trace the etymology on that nameFemales are wingless, so we can deduce that you have submitted a photo of a female.  BugGuide describes the habitat as:  “coniferous forests containing Lodgepole Pine, Englemann Spruce, and Mountain Hemlock; adults hide beneath leaf litter during the day, and become active at night, climbing tree trunks and continuing high into the branches to feed, sing (males), and mate.”

Thank you so much!! For two reasons – 1) Identifying the cool lady on top of our tent and 2) proving my husband wrong. (I said it was some kind of cricket and he said “nuh uh”)
WTB Rocks!!

Letter 6 – Great Grig

 

Subject: Grig
Location: Leavenworth, WA
October 24, 2016 8:31 pm
I just found this on the side of my house (10/24/16) in Leavenworth, WA. Our area is 90% Ponderosa with a few Doug Fir and fewer cedar. Only just under 1” long. But all info says adults only out until August. Could this be a babe monstrosa?
Signature: cb

Great Grig
Great Grig

Dear cb,
Based on this BugGuide image, we believe you are correct that this is a Great Grig,
Cyphoderris monstrosa.  BugGuide lists sightings until September and according to the information page on BugGuide:  “adults from June to August” and “overwinters as a late-instar nymph or young adult in burrow in ground; one generation per year.” 

Letter 7 – Great Grig

 

Subject: Cricket?
Location: Vancouver BC
June 30, 2017 2:09 pm
This pic was sent to us from our some in Vancouver, BC. We have no luck identifying it.
Signature: Deb

Great Grig

Hi Deb,
We are confident by comparing your images to the images on this BugGuide posting that you have submitted images of a Great Grig,
Cyphoderris monstrosa.  According to BugGuide, the range is “southern British Columbia and Alberta, south to northern California and southern Idaho” and the habitat is “coniferous forests containing Lodgepole Pine, Englemann Spruce, and Mountain Hemlock; adults hide beneath leaf litter during the day, and become active at night, climbing tree trunks and continuing high into the branches to feed, sing (males), and mate.”

Great Grig

Thank you. My husband used to collect insects,  but he had never seen this one before.

Letter 8 – Great Grig

 

Subject: Beetle in Montana
Location: Montana, Rocky Mountain Front
August 21, 2017 4:14 am
No one seems to be able to identify the attached beetle. It was about two inches long.
Signature: Rick Regh

Great Grig

Dear Rick,
This is NOT a Beetle.  It is an Orthopteran, a member of the insect order that contains Crickets and Grasshoppers.  This is a Great Grig,
Cyphoderris monstrosa, and we identified it thanks to images posted to BugGuide.  Though BugGuide data does not include Montana sightings, the University of Florida Entomology site does provide a range map that includes western Montana.  According to BugGuide, the habitat is:  “coniferous forests containing Lodgepole Pine, Englemann Spruce, and Mountain Hemlock; adults hide beneath leaf litter during the day, and become active at night, climbing tree trunks and continuing high into the branches to feed, sing (males), and mate.” 

Letter 9 – Great Grig, we believe

 

Subject: Cricket
Location: Spokane, Wa
March 13, 2017 3:55 pm
One of my students brought this cricket to me this morning. I have tried to identify it with no luck. Any info would be greatly appreciated for me and my class.
Signature: Erin Parker

Great Grig

Dear Erin,
We believe this is a Great Grig,
Cyphoderris monstrosa, or another member of the genus.  According to BugGuide, their habitat is “coniferous forests containing Lodgepole Pine, Englemann Spruce, and Mountain Hemlock; adults hide beneath leaf litter during the day, and become active at night, climbing tree trunks and continuing high into the branches to feed, sing (males), and mate.”

Letter 10 – Great Grig from Canada

 

Subject:  Unidentified insect
Geographic location of the bug:  Lone Butte, British Columbia
Date: 09/16/2018
Time: 06:02 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi there, I’ve found a couple of these insects around our new property in the interior of BC and was wondering if this is some type of cicada, or is it something else entirely?? The ones I’ve been seeing appear to be hiding when found (in rock piles and old abandoned shacks).  When found they seem to only want to be on their back with legs in the air…very tricky to get them to flip over to see the pattern on the back. They are about an inch or so long, and 1/2 an invh wide (very chubby looking through the abdomen).  The one I found today had green stuff in its mandible area. Neither had fully developed wings so  thinking they aren’t yet adults, but seems to be getting late in the year to be seeing insects that haven’t fully developed yet…we’ve already seen snow here and daily highs are regularly in the single digits now. We live in a mature fir forest if that helps.
I’m really quite curious to know what these critters are, what life stage they are at, and if they are common to see in BC’s interior.
Thanks a bunch for any info you can provide.
How you want your letter signed:  Julie Kline

Great Grig

Dear Julie,
We believe this is a Great Grig,
Cyphoderris monstrosa, and according to BugGuide, they eat:  “staminate flowers of coniferous trees, and flower parts & pollen of broadleaved shrubs; sometimes eats fruit and small insects” and “males stridulate to attract females or to announce territory; males also have fierce fights over territory and/or females.”  The habitat is described as “coniferous forests containing Lodgepole Pine, Englemann Spruce, and Mountain Hemlock; adults hide beneath leaf litter during the day, and become active at night, climbing tree trunks and continuing high into the branches to feed, sing (males), and mate.”  BugGuide even has an image of a Great Grig on its back as you describe.

Great Grig

Thanks Daniel,
Much appreciated! I did a bit more research after sending you this request and suspected the same thing. They really are pretty cool bugs.
Cheers,
Julie

Letter 11 – Great Grig we suppose

 

Subject: Uhler’s or Great Grig
Location: Premiere Ridge, British Columbia
May 9, 2016 7:59 pm
I’m a forester working the Kootenays, British Columbia. We exposed this guy under some loose bark. I did a bit of research and figured it’s a Uhler’s or maybe a Great Grig or a hump winged cricket. Are these all interchangeable names for the same insect?
Signature: J. Rynierse

Great Grig
Great Grig

Dear J. Rynierse,
We believe this is a Great Grig,
Cyphoderris monstrosa, whose name means “MONSTROSA: like a monster; very large and abnormally shaped or hideous (this species is the largest of the 3 in North America)” according to BugGuide,  though we would not rule out one of the other species in the genus identified on BugGuide.  We are not certain where you found the name Uhler’s Grig, but there is one image of a Great Grig on BugGuide that mentions the name Uhler’s Grig.  According to BugGuide, Hump Winged Crickets belong to the family Prophalangopsidae, and there is but one North American genus in the family, so globally, it is fair to say that all Great Grigs are Hump Winged Crickets, but there might be other Hump Winged Crickets elsewhere in the world that are not Grigs.  For your purposes in British Columbia, the two names are synonymous, though one is a family name and the other a species name.

Letter 12 – Grig

 

A question about … a bug!
Great site … say I, as I type on a keyboard graced by a dead ‘Longhorn’ of some description (found by my wife in the innards of a malfunctioning microwave and left here for my admiration, no doubt). I have a picture or two for you and, probably, an easy one for you to identify … “just a dumb old cricket” the opinion of one secretary I had hoped to gross out, totally unimpressed by my find. Not like any cricket I ever saw though (I grew up back east where they are all black and have flatter bodies and larger, more angulated hind legs). And we never hear the chirping of crickets around here either … “here” being west-central Alberta, in the heart of the Canadian Rockies.. Anyway – this specimen was found in, floating near the bottom in, a full water trough one morning. I went down to feed the ponies and this beast was only about one inch off the bottom and lifeless. I scooped it out but caried it around while doing the rest of the chores, hoping to identify it later or show it to someone who could. Eventually, about half an hour later, when showing it to someone, it had grabbed onto my fingers and wouldn’t let go. So – I did the befriend-a-bug thing, took it’s picture and let it go. (There must be some award on this site for such gallantry – though I could as easily fill your ‘carnage’ pages.) Any definitive I.D. on this one? (Sorry for the unintended use of the flash but I had let it go before I realized what it had done to the pictures.) … and how long can they survive under water, anyway … or would he have had brain damage?
Terry in Alberta

Hi Terry,
This is a Grig, a Hump Winged Cricket. It is a member of a family found in the Pacific Northwest. Sorry, we can’t answer your questions about drowning or brain damage.

Letter 13 – Grig

 

Robot Bug
Hello Bugman,
A bunch of my friends and I saw this bug (I’m guessing it’s some kind of cricket) while camping in the Mt. Hood National Forest in Oregon. It kind of has scales like an armadillo and moves like a machine. The picture doesn’t do it justice, it’s incredibly shiny like it’s made of gold. Thanks,
dena

Hi Dena,
This is a Grig, a Hump-Winged Cricket in the genus Cyphoderris. They are found in the Pacific Northwest. We would like to think this is Cyphoderris monstrosa, the Great Grig or Monster Haglid, but it might be one of the other two members of the genus. Grigs are found in coniferous forests and you can look to BugGuide for additional information.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

2 thoughts on “Great Grig: All You Need to Know for a Fun Encounter”

  1. Haha, my room is in a 100 year old basement. I just recently found one of these guys for the first time. Good to see I’m not the only one freaked out by the size of these buggers.

    Reply

Leave a Comment