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Allard's Ground Cricket

Allard’s Ground Cricket (Allonemobius allardi)

Occurrence

Very common to abundant in expected habitats

Habitat

Open areas, edges, and grassy areas if not too damp. They like sandy and drier soil, but it's not essential. This is not a woodland or wetland edges species, though.

Range

All counties in our region.

Physical description

Small, dark cricket about ½” in length.

Song

A sparkling, jingling song rather like “tik-a-tik-a-tik-a-tik-a.” It’s really more of a “tink” but that’s even harder to imitate because we humans can’t even make our “tiks” fast enough, let alone “tinks.”

 

The Allard’s can make very rapid bursts of song and also occasional periods of slower song that resemble a Tinkling Ground Cricket. Don’t be fooled: he will soon revert to the typical fast-paced song unless he’s just really cold. They sing in the afternoon and at night.

They may also do shorter bursts of song instead of the continuous song and can switch at any time.  Just keep in mind that it's the same species. This recording illustrates both the continuous and a series of short songs.

Allard's Ground cricket continuous song and a series of shorter songs - Recording by Lisa Rainsong
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Adult season

Mid-July through October or longer, depending on their proximity to the lake and if there is a freeze in October.

General description and context

Although all of our ground crickets are small and dark, the Allard’s and Striped Ground Crickets are the largest. They are easy to distinguish by song, but visual identification requires a very close look. Allard’s Ground Crickets do not have stripes on their heads (as do Striped Ground Crickets), and their heads can appear somewhat red.

Here’s a photo of a female Allard’s:

Similar species

Striped Ground Crickets have subtle stripes on their heads and a very different song. Tinkling Ground Crickets (Allonemobius tinnulus) sound very similar to Allard’s Ground Crickets – their tink-tink-tink song is like that of a cold Allard’s – but they are not an expected species in NE Ohio. Listen for these crickets in western and southern Ohio, especially in dry – even sandy – wooded areas. If you still think you may be hearing a Tinkling Ground Cricket instead of an Allard’s, listen for a little while to hear if he speeds up to a more typical Allard’s tempo. Remember, too, that the Allard’s will sing considerably slower when temperatures are chilly.

Interesting observation

Late one fall, I had a terrarium with both a male Allard’s and a male Striped Ground Cricket. I’d assumed they would coexist as they do out in a grassy hiking trial. I was quite surprised to learn that they were very territorial with each other and would sing fierce, challenging songs and sometimes even start to fight. I had to separate them into different terrariums!