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Snowy Tree Cricket

Snowy Tree Cricket (Oecanthus fultoni)

Occurrence

Fairly common

Habitat

Found in suburban and rural areas in shrubs, vines, and sometimes in small trees. Not a meadow species, but likely to be in woodland edges. In more urban areas, they will be in bushes, small trees, vines such as honeysuckle in yards, and on trellises next to houses.

Range

Scattered throughout our region.

Physical description

Pale green with a little reddish orange on the top of the head and the base of the antennae. Wings are fairly wide and rounded compared with the Narrow-winged Tree Cricket who is often singing nearby.

Song

A very steady “chirp-chirp-chirp” that is faster and higher in pitch at warm temperatures and somewhat lower and slower at cooler temperatures. You'll hear the song at three different temperatures. This is a good example of how songs become slower and lower in pitch as the temperature drops.

Snowy Tree cricket at 84F, at 66F and at 61F - Recording by Lisa Rainsong
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Adult season

Third week of July until frost.

General description and context

Snowy Tree Crickets are often called the “temperature cricket” or something similar because it’s actually possible to tell the temperature at which they’re singing by adding the number 40 to the number of chirps heard in 13 seconds. 

 

 

Similar Species

The Narrow-winged Tree Cricket may be found in the same habitats but sings more sustained songs between pauses. They look very similar and can even be in the same shrub. See the Tree Cricket Introduction page for a comparison of these two species. Broad-winged Tree Crickets have wings that are even wider, and they have rich red on the top of the head that extends down the antennae. They also sing lengthy trills rather than short chirps.

Backyard observation

Two Snowies that are in different spots in the same shrub may actually sing at slightly different pitches and speeds because one is located in a somewhat warmer micro-location than the other. If their temperatures are very close and you listen for a little while, you will hear that they are exactly together, then gradually shift a little apart – out of phase – and then gradually move back together only to begin moving apart again. Listen:

Two Snowy Tree Crickets at almost the same temperature - Recording by Lisa Rainsong
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