Introduction to the Jumping Bush Cricket and the Trigs: crickets moving northward
The Jumping Bush Cricket (Orocharis saltator) is in a category by itself. These cryptic crickets are usually found in shrubs and lower branches of trees. They look like wood and blend beautifully with bark and branches, but they also know how to hide effectively in foliage. Their songs are beautiful and carry very well, though locating the singers in not easy.
I’m a native Clevelander and these crickets were not part of the soundscape in Cleveland earlier in my life. I’ve listened and watched as they’ve become increasingly common in Cleveland and surrounding areas. They have moved north all the way up to the lakeshore in NE Ohio and though still less numerous in the snowbelt, their range is expanding even there.
They have no relatives anywhere near our area, though the Restless Bush Cricket (Hapithus agitator) can be found a little south of our region. Look for a yellow wing margin, which you can see on both males and females.
According to Singing Insects of North America, Restless Bush Crickets do not sing except in the Florida peninsula and east Texas.) I’ve seen a couple females at East Harbor State Park near Marblehead the past few years, which would be a considerable northward range expansion from the map in Singing Insects of North America.
Trigs: tiny crickets, powerful singers
“Trig” refers to these crickets’ subfamily name, which is Trigonidiinae, or “sword-tailed crickets.” They are 1/4 - 1/3” in size, and we currently have three species in NE Ohio. I say “currently,” because two of the three have been moving northward into all of our area. Another species – the Columbian Trig (Cyrtoxipha columbiana)– can be found in southern Ohio. It, too, appears to be a little north of the range map, as I've recorded them in Dayton and in Chillicothe.
We have two species in the genus Anaxipha: the Say’s Trig (Anaxipha exigua) and the Spring Trig (Anaxipha vernalis). Say’s Trig is widespread in our region and is typically found in wetlands and meadows. This cricket begins singing in late July.
The Spring Trig is more common south of our area, but is likely in every county in our area now. The name describes their season: they begin singing in June and continue through July, finishing their season about the time the Say’s Trigs begin. They are heard in meadows, especially those with grasses.
Both are brown, but the Say’s is more of a copper-brown. Both have beautiful, silvery trills, with the Say’s Trig’s pitch being considerably higher. The Spring Trig is almost impossible to find, so you’ll likely identify this species by its early season and its lovely song.
Spring Trig female
Say's Trig male
The Handsome Trig (Phyllopalpus puchellus) is just as small but is otherwise quite different in appearance. Both males and females are bright red and black with pale legs. The male’s song is as high in pitch as the Say’s Trig and is a continuous trill. However, it’s more of a crackling trill than a smooth, silvery song. One the species page, you’ll see that the sonogram shows tiny spaces (indicating silences) throughout the song.
Trigs: a comparison.
Spring Trig: June and July in meadows, grassy fields, and meadow edges. Light to rich brown – not dark brown like the ground crickets.
Say’s Trig: late July through September. Wetland edges – even in buttonbushes and other wetland shrubs. Meadows, sometimes forest edge understory. Coppery-brown.
Handsome Trig: early August until frost. Vines (especially blackberry and grape), shrubs, sometimes small trees with low branches, and occasionally in thick- stemmed meadow plants. Bright red head and thorax, black abdomen, pale legs. Loud, continuous, cracking (or perhaps sparkling) trill.