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Two-spotted Tree Cricket

Two-spotted Tree Cricket (Neoxabea bipunctata)

Occurrence

Very common and expected in appropriate habitat

Habitat

Trees, tall shrubs, and may even be found in grape vines. I'll occasionally find a female in the meadow at night.

Range

All counties in our region

Physical description

This cricket is in a different genus from our other tree crickets. It is a little larger than the Oecanthus tree crickets and their wings extend well beyond their abdomens. Also unlike the Oecanthus species, these crickets are varying shades of tan to reddish-brown. They have reddish heads, and females have two dark spots on their wings.

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Female Two-spotted Tree Cricket

Song

A very loud, strident trill with intermittent pauses of varying lengths. There can also be a brief series of staccato (short) notes preceding the longer trill. The intensity of the song may be due to the high number of wing strokes per second combined with a relatively high pitch. The song sounds like a defiant challenge and not a melody that could sooth someone into a peaceful sleep.

The male in the photo below is likely singing through a hole he chewed in that leaf!

Two-spotted Tree Cricket - Recording by Lisa Rainsong
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Adult season

Third week of July until frost.

General description and context

Search for them above your head, singing from a hole in a wide leaf or possibly in a notch between lobes of a leaf. These crickets are strong fliers and may occasionally show up even in meadows, where they will dine on grass seeds and flowers.

Similar species

None.

Mating behavior

Unlike the Oecanthus tree crickets that mate from relatively supported locations on stems and leaves, Two-spotted Tree Crickets dangle and sway as if they will surely plunge to the ground. As with other tree crickets, the female is on top of the male, but in this species, the male supports them both while holding on to his support with his front legs. Although I had learned about this unusual behavior from Nancy Collins, when I actually observed a pair dangling high above my head I couldn’t quite imagine how they would be successful!  

After they have actually mated, the female will eat a sweet substance from the male's metanotal gland at the base of his wings while his spermatophore is absorped (it's the small, white ball at the base of her abdomen). In the meantime, he just needs to hold on tight!

Two-spotted Tree Cricket nymph