In DepthEcology

For these intrepid crickets, lava is home sweet home

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Science  22 Mar 2019:
Vol. 363, Issue 6433, pp. 1262
DOI: 10.1126/science.363.6433.1262

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The lava cricket (Caconemobius fori) is the first multicellular organism to take up residence in new lava flows that issue forth from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island—and nobody is quite sure how this tiny, wingless insect pulls off that trick. It ekes out a living eating decaying, windblown plant debris and the protein in sea foam. Where the lava crickets live in between eruptions is unknown. So is how the crickets find each other for mating. Now, sponsored by a grant from the National Science Foundation and armed with improvised pitfall traps made from wine bottles baited with rancid cheese, a team of entomologists is traveling to fresh lava flows from the volcano's violent 2018 eruption to learn the lava crickets' secrets.