Tree Crickets

Singing tree crickets are beautiful. They raise diaphanous wings like miniature sails and vibrate them as they trill their songs.

November 3, 2020 | | Notes from the Wild

Listen to the songs of the tree crickets in the videos below. Those pleasant trills are part of our late summer and early autumn soundscapes, even in our towns and cities. But if we even notice at all, I’d venture that very few of us ever pause to wonder who the singers are. A pity, because the singers are lovely.

Until recently I too was unaware of these common singers. This astonishes me because I’ve devoted much of my life to learning about nature. It’s also humbling. What other wonders am I missing?

In mid-October I spent two blissful hours in a windswept Niagara Escarpment meadow. The sky was blue, the air warm and the tree crickets were trilling all around me. I decided to look for one.

Singing black-horned tree cricket. Photo by Don Scallen.

Singing black-horned tree cricket. Photo by Don Scallen.

Black-horned tree cricket. Photo by Don Scallen.

Black-horned tree cricket. Photo by Don Scallen.

Black-horned tree cricket on hand. Photo by Don Scallen.

Black-horned tree cricket on hand. Photo by Don Scallen.

Every time I got close, however, the singer would stop singing. Having no particular place to go, I sat amongst the goldenrod and waited. Soon a tree cricket began calling again. Being small and green, it took me some time to see him (like birds, male tree crickets do most of the singing), but there he was on a goldenrod stalk, wings spread and trilling.

Singing tree crickets are beautiful. They raise diaphanous wings like miniature sails and vibrate them as they trill their songs.

I had found my tree cricket and then, unexpectedly, one found me. He climbed onto my left hand and began to nibble, enjoying the savory taste of salt or dry skin perhaps. I could feel tiny pin pricks as his mandibles went to work. After appreciating this cross-species interaction for ten minutes or so, I gently placed him back on a goldenrod stem.

I’m glad my ears are finally tuned to the tree cricket channel. I look forward to meeting more of these diminutive singers next year and perhaps even offering them a hand to snack on!

About the Author More by Don Scallen

Don Scallen enjoys sharing his love of nature through his writing and presentations. Check out his blog "Notes from the Wild".

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