Skip to main content

Insect Symphony: Final Movement

The eves are growing cool, and around here we've been flirting with frost. When the curtain drops on fall and freezing nighttime temperatures become frequent, our insect songsters are silenced.

This, to me, is a bummer. Kind of like when the last of the Neotropical warblers and other migrants wing south to their tropical winter haunts, and we're deprived of their beauty and song for another long, cold winter.

But, the toughest of the crickets are still producing their melodies. The three below are the ones that I'm still hearing every day, and they'll continue on into November, at least in warmer microclimates. Enjoy 'em will you can!

Allard's Ground Cricket, Allonemobius allardi, female. Note her long needlelike ovipositor sticking out like a cactus spine from the rear. This is an extremely common species, and like the next two, is in your yard if you live in Ohio or this part of the country.

Ground crickets are little; less than half the size of the large black field crickets that deliver the classic cricket chirp chirp chirp. They are ubiquitous denizens of lawns, weedy areas, fields - nearly any open to semi-open habitat.

This species is often the first sound of nature that I hear upon leaving my house, along with the next two species. Allard's Ground Cricket makes a semi-musical trill that goes on and on. To me, it has a somewhat tinkling quality, and the rate is slow enough that you can discern the individual pulses, but they are still too fast to count.

Carolina Ground Cricket, Eunemobius carolinus, male. Another miniscule cricket, and every bit as common as the Allard's, if not more so. Visually, they have a browner cast than the very black Allard's Ground Cricket.

But you're going to hear scores more of these insects that you'll ever see, so learning the songs is the way to go - just as with birds. The Carolina also has a rapid trill, but it is unmusical and very fast - an almost electric crackling, far to rapid to discern individual pulses. Far more rapid than the Allard's, and it is common to hear both from one spot, so an interested observer can quickly learn to tell them apart.

Another thing: ground crickets are well-named; they sing from the ground, so that habitat preference also eliminates other possibilities. In fact, it must be their preference for lurking in grass duff, leaf litter, and even concrete and asphalt crevices that accounts for their ability to last into cold weather. These microclimates can remain significantly warmer than unprotected areas just a few inches above.

Carolina Ground Crickets will often be heard singing into November. I heard one last night, as I entered the local Krogers. It was against a wall behind a propane tank display - air temperature 39 degrees.

Finally, my hands-down favorite of the elfin lawn crickets, the Striped Ground Cricket, Allonemobius fasciatus. The one above is a male, and was singing while I watched and photographed it. These are truly wee; seemingly only half the size of those other two ground crickets. They are so tiny that most people would flush them under foot and never begin to notice them, or if they did, would probably not guess them to be crickets.

But everyone hears them, and I'm still hearing Stripes every day. Males create a wonderfully bright, slightly metallic series of chirps that are uniformly delivered in series. The song is much slower than the preceding ground crickets, and one can keep up with and count the pulses.

For such a small insect, the song of the Striped Ground Cricket is astonishingly loud and carries some distance. Listen tomorrow! It'll be Indian Summerish and warm enough that all of these crickets will be going at it. If you are outside at all, you are bound to hear them.

Enjoy the final insect symphony will you can. It won't last much longer.


Cathy said…
I do appreciate this post. I'm always wondering what insects I'm hearing. I'll be listening for these insects in the Mohican State Park area today.

Was able to hear their songs on
Cathy said…
Here's the link to the cricket songs:
Scott said…
Hi Jim. I'm still hearing Black-horned Tree Crickets here in northern Indiana. Where do they rank in terms of calling late into the fall?
Anonymous said…
What a great resource!
Anonymous said…
Rather nice site you've got here. Thanks the author for it. I like such topics and everything that is connected to them. I definitely want to read a bit more on that blog soon.

Popular posts from this blog

The Pinching Beetle, a rather brutish looking bug

The world is awash in beetles, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Few of them can match the intimidation factor of a Pinching Beetle, Lucanus capreolus, though. Those formidable looking mandibles look like they could slice off a finger.

Today was one of those coolly diverse days. I started off down in Fayette County, visiting the farm of a friend. He has restored about 25 acres of wetlands, and the response by the animal community has been nothing short of phenomenal. Blizzards of dragonflies of many species, amphibians galore, and nesting Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, and Sora. Among MANY other things. And all in a short two years. Add water and they will come.

Then, working my way home, I ducked into a Madison County cemetery that has a thriving population of Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrels, and shot images of our native prairie dog. Then, I stopped at a spot along Little Darby Creek, waded on in, and procured some pretty nice shots of various stream bluets and dancers. …

Calliope Hummingbird in central Ohio!

A hatch-year male Calliope Hummingbird strikes a pose. Small but tough, the hummingbird was feeding actively yesterday in 39 F temperatures. It frequents feeders and gardens at a home in Delaware County, Ohio, about a half-hour north of Columbus.

Fortunately, the wayward hummer appeared at the home of Tania and Corey Perry. Tania is a birder, and knew right away that the hummingbird was something special. For a while, the identification was up in the air, which isn't surprising. The Calliope Hummingbird used to be placed in its own genus, Stellula, but has recently been submerged into the genus Selasphorus, which includes Allen's, Broad-tailed, and Rufous hummingbirds. The latter two, especially, are quite similar to the Calliope in subadult plumage. Rufous is the default "vagrant" hummingbird here, with dozens of records and birds turning up annually. There is but one Ohio record of Allen's Hummingbird, from late fall/early winter 2009. Ditto the Calliope Hummi…

Snowy owl photography tactics - and things NOT to do

A gorgeous juvenile female snowy owl briefly catches your narrator with its piercing gaze. It's doing its Linda Blair/Exorcist trick - twisting its head 180 degrees to look straight behind. Owls have 14 neck vertebrae - double our number - which allows them such flexibility.

These visitors from the high arctic have irrupted big time into Ohio and adjacent regions, with new birds coming to light nearly every day. Probably 80 or so have thus far been reported in the state, and some of them have stuck around favored spots and become local celebrities.

I went to visit one of these birds this morning - the animal above, which was found last Friday by Doug Overacker and Julie Karlson at C.J. Brown Reservoir near Springfield. In the four days since its discovery, many people have visited as is nearly always the case when one of these white wonders appears near a large population center or is otherwise very accessible.

And as is always the case, people want to photograph the owls. And th…