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Abstract

When attacked, crickets may shed or ‘autotomize’ an entrapped limb in order to escape a would-be predator. We examined the relationship between limb autotomy, running speed and susceptibility to future predation in house crickets (Acheta domestica). Hind limb autotomy resulted in a significant reduction in escape speed and ability to jump during the escape run, and greater predation by both lizards (striped skink Mabuya striata punctatissima) and mice (pouched mouse Saccostomus campestris). Although limb autotomy may enable a house cricket to escape a predatory encounter, autotomy of even one hind limb results in immediate costs to escape speed in crickets and makes the animal more vulnerable to subsequent predator encounters.