Cuban Ground Cricket
Cuban Ground Cricket (Neonemobius cubensis)
Very common in its preferred habitats.
Almost any grassy area except those in more urban and inner-ring suburban areas. They are an expected species along grassy paths, in meadows, and occasionally near wetland edges, but they are not found in the woods. They can sometimes be found in drier, sandier areas as well; there is a population in the small meadow near the parking lot at Mentor Lagoons and also at Sandy Ridge Reservation in the Lorain County Metroparks.
Female Cuban Ground Cricket climbing blades of grass. Her palps are dark at the end, but white closer to her head.
All counties in our region. The Cuban Ground Cricket was not on the Singing Insects of North America range map for our area until 2015, when I documented how widespread it is in NE Ohio.
At about ¼”, it is the smallest of our ground crickets. They're very dark, but you may be able to see some minute light spots on their hind legs. The palps are dark at the ends but white closer to the head; this will be the easier characteristic to see.
Photos on the left are males. Photo above is a female. Her shorter wings reveal the spots on the abdomen.
The palps are black at the ends and white closer to the head. On a Confused Ground Cricket, the palps would be entirely white, but that species in rare in our area. Both species, however, are at Mentor Lagoons..
Their smooth, beautiful songs begin very softly and crescendo over several seconds, ending with an abrupt cutoff. After several seconds of silence, the next song begins. The timing reminds me of taking a breath, then doing a slow exhale. This just might be my favorite cricket song, because it feels so peaceful.
They sing in the afternoon and at night, and their songs do not resemble our other common ground crickets.
Late July until frost. I have occasionally heard them in the first half of November.
General description and context
These crickets often share the ground level with Striped Ground Crickets, Carolina Ground Crickets, and occasionally with Allard’s Ground Crickets. They are visibly smaller and by far more difficult to catch. They are astonishing jumpers!
Sphagnum Ground Crickets (Neonemobius palustris), which are bog residents, are comparably tiny and have a similar song. They, too, are found in NE Ohio, but you’d have to explore a bog mat to find them.
This was not a species that was previously expected in Ohio or even nearby states. I learned about them when I consistently heard a song that matched this species but was singing from mowed, grassy paths in Geauga County. Although it was no small task, I was finally able to catch one of these powerful little jumpers and take him home to his own terrarium. The song matched, the photos matched, and I subsequently found them in every county in our region.
Listening in Nature: ground and field crickets:
Songs of Insects
Nature Inquiries: Cuban and Variegated Ground Crickets ("the tiny ones")
Singing Insects of North America