by Carl Strang
Today I wish to share recordings of 4 species of our tree crickets, which have in common songs that are continuous (rather than interrupted) trills. I will order them along a typical habitat gradient, from grasses to mixed grasses and forbs to mixed forbs and shrubs to trees (specifically, conifers).
The four-spotted tree cricket seems to prefer to sing from grass stems.
The song is a continuous clear trill:
Very abundant late in the season, Forbes’s tree cricket prefers forbs or vines.
Here is a recording from last year:
There is an interesting issue surrounding these first two songs, in my mind. I know of other singing insect students who, like me, at least sometimes can distinguish the songs of four-spotted and Forbes’s tree crickets, but we describe them with different language. To me, the four-spotted’s song has more of a clear, tone-like quality, while the Forbes’s song has a discordant tone that others apparently don’t hear. Others point to the difference in pulse rate (much faster in Forbes’s, but I need a computer analysis of a recording to tell that difference). This is the best example I have found of how describing insect songs in words can be difficult, and may in some cases be impossible.
Woodland shrubby understories to masses of forbs in open places near wooded edges are habitat for our third species, the broad-winged tree cricket. Here is its song:
To my ear, this song has a richer tone, and usually is lower in pitch than other trilling tree crickets at the same temperature.
I’ll close with the pine tree cricket, perhaps the most beautiful of the four.
The following recording was made indoors, from a caged male (you can hear the splashing of the aquarium pump in the background):
Again the trill is continuous and similar to the others, especially the four-spotted tree cricket, but the source of the sound in a pine, spruce or cedar (usually in a grove of them) is a dead give-away.