Spring Field Cricket Survey

by Carl Strang

The spring and fall field crickets arguably are our most familiar singing insects. The two species are common, span the season from spring to late fall, and their identical songs are easily recognized chirps. Physically, spring and fall field crickets are essentially identical.

Fall field cricket (female)

Fall field cricket (female)

Developmentally and ecologically they are different, however. These days we are hearing spring field crickets, which overwinter as nymphs, mature in late April or May, and finish in mid-July. The figurative baton then passes to the fall field crickets, which overwinter as eggs in the soil, mature after mid-July, and continue into October or early November. These are two different survival regimes, and the spring field crickets arguably have the tougher challenge. Winter would seem to be easier to survive as a buried quiescent egg than as a nymph. I have been testing this idea by surveying the two species in DuPage County, and recently completed the spring field cricket part of the survey. I drove 3 routes in eastern DuPage in the evenings, listening with the car windows open. The crickets’ songs are sufficiently penetrating that I can expect to hear them, at least well enough to get a general sense of where they are and where they’re not.

Here’s the composite map to date. Green dots represent locations with both species, yellow show places with only fall field crickets, and blue with only spring field crickets (so far).

Here’s the composite map to date. Green dots represent locations with both species, yellow show places with only fall field crickets, and blue with only spring field crickets (so far).

As you can see, there are many blue dots in the eastern half of the county. Many, perhaps most or all, will become green when I repeat these routes in late summer or early autumn. The impression I formed while driving around is that there are pockets of crickets, scattered and somewhat isolated, with a lot of empty space between them. Some populations are relatively large, but some of the blue dots represent single singers. Spring field cricket habitat is narrower, it seems, needing to supply better winter shelter, but I will be better able to draw tentative conclusions after the survey drives for fall field crickets later this year.

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3 Comments

  1. Lisa Rainsong said,

    June 26, 2013 at 8:44 am

    Thank you for another fascinating post. I have noticed that Spring Field Crickets are much less common in my NE Ohio area than Fall Field Crickets, but I will be more attentive to documentation after reading about your work. I find it astonishing that they can overwinter at the upper edge of Lake Erie beaches under logs, but the weather is even more cold and harsh a little higher up and farther inland.from the lake.

    • Nancy Collins said,

      June 26, 2013 at 8:43 pm

      Very interesting. I’m not well educated on songs other than tree crickets, but your posts are educating me!

  2. May 21, 2014 at 5:48 am

    […] Apart from such uncommonly encountered critters as sulphur-winged grasshoppers and spring trigs, the next common singing insects to mature should be the predaceous katydids (Roesel’s katydid and the protean shieldback), and gladiator meadow katydids. By then I hope that the spring field crickets will have built numbers to the point where I can finish my county survey of their distribution. […]


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