A Small Mystery Solved

by Carl Strang

From time to time I have puzzled over a cricket’s trill I have heard in scattered places on the mansion lawn at Mayslake Forest Preserve. I have called them Say’s trigs, because that was closest to the sound of the trill, but two things bothered me: I haven’t found these trigs in mowed lawns elsewhere, and the quality of the sound wasn’t exactly right. Say’s trigs usually are found in dense herbaceous vegetation, or sometimes are up in the foliage of shrubs.

Earlier this week I decided to record that trill for comparison to references. While the mini-disk was recording, it occurred to me that I might take advantage of my shotgun mike’s directionality to try and find the singer. Listening through the headphones eliminated any ventriloquial confusion, and I was able to locate the source within 2 inches. I didn’t see a cricket, but there were two nightcrawler tunnels there.

Further study of the ground revealed that there also are a lot of significant cracks in the soil.

The unimpeded sound I got from close up confirmed that these are indeed Say’s trigs. Something about this lawn, or this population of crickets, has them behaving differently from conspecifics elsewhere. It occurs to me that one possibly significant difference is that there are very few striped ground crickets in the Mayslake lawn, while in practically every other DuPage County lawn they are common. Something about this place apparently causes trigs to replace striped ground crickets. I titled this post “A Small Mystery Solved,” but as so often is the case I have replaced one mystery with another.

%d bloggers like this: