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Snowy Tree Cricket Oecanthus fultoni


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Snowy Tree Cricket
credit: Calibas

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Family: Gryllidae, True Crickets view all from this family

Description Pale greenish yellow head, long thin antennae and transparent wings. Antennae have black spot between 1st and 2nd segments. Wings of mail paddle shaped and held flat over back, concealing all but tip of hind wings underneath and body. Forewings of female are narrow and curve closely around its body.

Dimensions 1/2-5/8" (13-15 mm).

Food Tree crickets are omnivorous, and are known to feed plant parts, other insects such as Sternorrhyncha, and even fungi. Snowy Tree Crickets are particularly fond of aphids.

Sound Produces a continuous trill or chirp sound at very high pitch. Harmonics and pitch higher in warmer temperatures.

Life Cycle Eggs are laid in the fall, in a series of small holes drilled into the bark. After remaining dormant for the winter, the eggs hatch in the spring and the young tree crickets begin feeding on aphids. They may go through as many as twelve molts before reaching maturity around mid summer.

Habitat Deciduous forests and woods.

Range Found throughout North America, except the southeastern states.

Discussion Once a female cricket selects a mate, she approaches, nudges the male until he stops singing, and initiates mating. The Snowy Tree Cricket's call is a continuous trill. Pitch and harmonics are higher in warmer temperature, so the old story about determining the temperature from a cricket's chirp may have had some truth to it. After mating, the female cuts pin-like holes in thin bark of woody branches, dabs excrement inside, embeds her eggs in it, and coats them with a protective secretion. As is often the case in nature, nothing goes to waste, not even waste.