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For the United States & Canada
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Subfamily Oecanthinae - Tree Crickets

juvenile? something - Neoxabea bipunctata - male Four-spotted Tree Cricket - Oecanthus quadripunctatus - female Western Tree Cricket showing wings - Oecanthus varicornis - male Singing male Pine Tree Cricket - Oecanthus pini - male Black-horned Tree Cricket - Oecanthus forbesi - female Oecanthinae nymph emerging from egg - Oecanthus forbesi
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Orthoptera (Grasshoppers, Crickets, Katydids)
Suborder Ensifera (Long-horned Orthoptera)
Infraorder Gryllidea (Crickets)
Family Gryllidae (True Crickets)
Subfamily Oecanthinae (Tree Crickets)
Other Common Names
pale bush crickets
ee - can - THIGH - knee
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Oecanthidae (full family)
Arnett (1) lists two genera: Oecanthus (14 North American spp.) and Neoxabea (1 species, N. bipunctatus--

As of Jan 2019, there are 19 described species of Oecanthus found in the U.S. and 2 species of Neoxabea = total of 21 species for the U.S.

SINA lists one more in that genus). +Thomas J. Walker published an annotated world checklist for Oecanthinae in 1966 with a total of 64 species: 47 Oecanthus, 6 Xabea and 11 Neoxabea. Annotated Checklist of Oecanthinae (Orthoptera: Gryllidae) of the World
circa 13-22 mm
Medium-sized or small, delicate, and usually pale green. Other characteristics (1) (2) (3) (4):
mouthparts directed forward
lack ocelli
head long and narrow
hind femora thin
hind tibiae typically with small teeth between spines, at least in Oecanthus (Neoxabea lacks spines on tibiae)
tarsal claws with two lobes
forewings (tegmina) of males often much wider than abdomen
songs typically lower in pitch than other subfamilies of crickets (Gryllidae)

Genera can be differentiated as follows (SINA):
Upper margins of hind tibiae armed with spines and teeth, first antennal segment lacks a tubercle on distal border-->Oecanthus
upper margins of hind tibiae unarmed, first antennal segment has prominent tubercle on distal border-->Neoxabea

Here is a key to assist with identification of tree crickets encountered in the U.S.:

(Save it to your computer and print)

ID for many species made by markings on the first two antennal segments -- the scape and the pedicel.

Example of antennal markings for Four-spotted Tree Cricket:

Example photos of different species of Tree Crickets:






Western - pale

Western - brown













No photos as of yet -
Brownsville (N. formosa)
Thin-lined (O. leptogrammus)

Species within the nigricornis group are often difficult to distinguish. The surest way to ID O. nigricornis, O. forbesi, O. argentinus, O. quadripunctatus and O. celerinictus is by the number of pulses per second at a given temperature.
For example at 25.0 C - a tree cricket singing with:
42 pulses per second is O. quadripunctatus
54 pulses per second is O. nigricornis
68 pulses per second is O. forbesi
Dr. Thomas J. Walker has several articles with graphs of pulses per second of these species.

Tree crickets are Prognathous: Having jaws that project forward to a marked degree.
One or more species are found in each of the 48 continental U.S.
Some found on trees, but others associated with shrubs or herbs.
Some examples: Post Oak, Red Maple, Birch, Apple, Crabapple, White Pine, Tamarack, Cedar, Grapevine, Raspberry, Red-twig Dogwood, Viburnum, Goldenrod, Thistle, Sunflower, Catmint, Soybean and Grasses.

These photos show examples of blending in with their host plants:

The veins on the wings of the females resemble veins on leaves.

The colors of this male Pine tree cricket blend in with the bark and the needles.
Nymphs emerge in warm weather (i.e. June in northern climates)
Singing males start calling in mid to late summer in northern climates.
Mating of adults in late summer / fall (i.e. Aug through Oct in northern climates)
Depending on the climate, two or three generations may occur in one season.
Genus Oecanthus is predatory on other insects, especially those with soft bodies (Insects of Cedar Creek). One example: aphids.
Oecanthines also feed on leaf fibers, leaves, fruits.
Oecanthines raised indoors readily eat commercial cricket powder.
Life Cycle
Eggs are laid in stems of host plant. These eggs overwinter in northern climates and nymphs emerge in late spring to early summer.
Undergo a paurometabolous development (Gradual Metamorphosis). Nymphs resemble small adults and gradually develop external wing buds. They live in the same habitat as adults, typically taking the same food.
5 instar stages before reaching full adulthood (approximately 6 weeks).

The following photos are representatives of various life cycle stages. They include different individuals and different species:

Oviposited egg markings on stem


Nymph (less than 24 hours old)

Early instar

Middle instar

Advanced instar

Adult male

Adult female

Singing male

Mating pair

Ovipositing female
A great source for 'everything you ever wanted to know about tree crickets' is an article written in May 1915 by Bentley B. Fulton in a Technical Bulletin for the New York Agricultural Experiment Station. The Tree Crickets of New York: Life History and Bionomics

One predator of tree crickets is the Grass-carrying Wasp (Isodontia)

BugGuide article on raising Oecanthus -
See Also
Carolina Ground Crickets and Say's Trigs have similiar sounding calls.
Print References
Arnett, p. 166 (1)
Capinera et al., pp. 205-209, plate 6 (2)
Borror and White (1970 ed.), pp. 84-85 (3)
Bland and Jacques, pp. 99-100, fig. 98 (4)
Walker, Thomas J., 1966. Annotated Checklist of Oecanthinae (Orthoptera: Gryllidae) of the World (5)
Works Cited
1.American Insects: A Handbook of the Insects of America North of Mexico
Ross H. Arnett. 2000. CRC Press.
2.Field Guide To Grasshoppers, Katydids, And Crickets Of The United States
John L. Capinera, Ralph D. Scott, Thomas J. Walker. 2004. Cornell University Press.
3.A Field Guide to Insects
Richard E. White, Donald J. Borror, Roger Tory Peterson. 1998. Houghton Mifflin Co.
4.How to Know the Insects
Roger G. Bland, H.E. Jaques. 1978. WCB/McGraw-Hill.
5.Annotated Checklist of Oecanthinae (Orthoptera: Gryllidae) of the World
Walker, Thomas J. 1966. 1966. Florida Entomologist.