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Forbes's Tree Cricket

Forbes’s Tree Cricket (Oecanthus forbesi)

Occurrence

Abundant. See “Overlapping ranges: Forbes’s and Black-horned Tree Crickets in NE Ohio

Habitat

Meadows, shrubby areas, wetland edges, but much less common in dry, upland fields. Large numbers in goldenrod, and they are also very common in blackberry. They are found in other forbs, but not as often in asters and grasses.

Range

All counties in our region. Please also see “Overlapping ranges: Forbes’s and Black-horned Tree Crickets in NE Ohio.” I have not found Black-horned Tree Crickets in Medina or Lorain Counties; to date, I have only found Forbes's there. They are common along the lake shore as far east as Lake Erie Bluffs in northeastern Lake County; in fact, I have not found Black-horneds in that park at all.

Physical description

Black head, black legs, black antennae, and light yellowish-green bodies. The heads vary from entirely black to a mix of black and yellowish-green. When the male raises his wings to sing, they will be somewhat yellowish.  

Male Forbes's Tree Cricket
Female Forbes's Tree Cricket

Song

A loud, somewhat strident trill that can continue for an extended duration. Short, irregular songs may indicate courtship/mating.

Forbes's Tree Cricket at 70F and then at 88F - Recording by Lisa Rainsong
00:00 / 00:00

Adult season

Early August until a hard frost.

General description and context

This gorgeous cricket is a meadow resident and will be quite numerous in goldenrod. Blackberry tangles are also popular, and the common NE Ohio mixture of goldenrod, blackberry, and buckthorn suites them splendidly. They initially sing at night when they first mature, but will then sing in the afternoon as well. When days become shorter and nights chillier, then will sing exclusively in the afternoon and stop before sunset.

Similar species

Black-horned Tree Cricket.  The Forbes’s Tree Cricket cannot be reliably distinguishable by sight from the Black-horned, and their songs are extremely similar. Only counting the number of wing strokes per second at a specific temperature can reliably distinguish them, and both species are sometimes present in the same location.

The Four-spotted Tree Cricket is also a meadow resident. Their songs sound similar, but these crickets are entirely green. In addition, the Four-spotted isn’t particularly bonded to goldenrod and prefers asters, Queen Anne’s lace, and grasses. They can also be found in somewhat drier habitats.

Field observation

Although the Black-horned Tree Cricket is the member of the look-alike pair that we might expect to find in NE Ohio, Forbes’s Tree Cricket may actually be more common.