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Where Do They Sing?

The simple answer is, “from the ground to the tops of the trees.” Imagine that the singing insects’ concert hall has a vertical rather than horizontal stage.  

The less simple answer is that there is significant variation among habitats, and the ensemble also varies based on the time of year and time of day. Here’s the general placement of the instruments:

Ground level:

Ground crickets and field crickets are literally on the ground. Some are even in cracks in foundations and concrete, and others are under leaf litter and among branches on the ground. Northern Mole Crickets sing in burrows at wetland and pond edges.

Meadows, wetland edges, and woodland edge habitat:

Meadow katydids and coneheads are in grasses, sedges, and lower vegetation.  Some are in wetland vegetation. Not all tree crickets live in trees. Many are actually in meadow vegetation and shrubs, and the forest edge understory. Nebraska Coneheads may also be present if the location is in Lorain or Medina counties.

Bush katydids are often found in meadow vegetation, and some are found with the Round-winged and Oblong-winged katydids in forest understory edges and shrubs in meadows and near ponds and wetlands.

Say’s Trigs are sometimes damp grasses and sedges and are often found in wetland areas. Handsome Trigs prefer shrubs and vines such as grape and blackberry. Shieldback katydids, when present, will be in the lower levels as well.

Shrubs and smaller trees:

Moving up a little higher, there are tree crickets that occupy larger shrubs and smaller trees. These are good places to find Jumping Bush Crickets, and Oblong-winged Katydids may be found there as well.

Taller trees and woodlands

Finally, there are tree crickets that really do sing from the trees, including the Pine Tree Cricket and Davis’ Tree Cricket. Greater Angle-wings call from the trees and the loud and the impressive Common True Katydids rule the highest reaches of the concert stage.

As you become familiar with these insects, you’ll know where to look and listen for each species and you’ll come to associate certain groups with appropriate vertical levels in their habitats. While an urban area may only have a couple of ground cricket species and some Fall Field Crickets, a backyard that is insect-friendly will have its own assortment of singers in the various vertical levels of vegetation.

I’ll include habitat descriptions later in the field guide and will list the species that may be found in these habitats at different vegetation levels, times of the season and times of the day.