Tree Crickets: Unwanted Pests or Just Tiny Musicians?

tree crickets


Do you ever hear a high-pitched chirping sound coming from the trees when outside at night? The source of this mysterious insect song is none other than tree crickets, an oft-overlooked and often misunderstood natural inhabitant of wooded areas all over the world. 

Although these tiny green bugs may seem like just another case of background noise in your outdoor adventures, there’s more to tree crickets than meets the eye—and ear! 

Read on for an enchanting look into the little lives of these musical insects and discover everything you need to know about tree crickets.

How To Identify Tree Crickets?

Tree crickets, also known as pale bush crickets, are among the most fascinating insects in the world. While they may be difficult to spot due to their small size and light green coloring that aids them in blending in with their surroundings, they can often be heard with relative ease thanks to their lower-pitched melodies. 

In fact, there are quite a few easily distinguishable features associated with this subfamily of cricket. While many other species have ocelli and simple eyes, these particular crickets have compound eyes and lack ocelli altogether. 

Additionally, the rear legs of tree crickets feature femurs that are much skinnier than most, and the tibias possess small teeth as well as spines located between them. 

To top it all off, male tree crickets will often have larger forewings which assist them in producing chirping noises. 

This group consists of roughly 20 species in North America, primarily being part of the Oecanthus genus. It’s immediately apparent how unique these crickets are – just inspect their rear legs! Known as tibiae, these shin-like legs are covered in spines set close together, giving them the colloquial “tree cricket” title due to their distinct appearance. 

Those who venture on the hunt may even come across one of the rarer Oecanthus species – a central Asian oecantha is known as bifasciatus

tree crickets

Tree Cricket Habitat

While some species of the tree cricket live in tall trees, many prefer the shelter of tall shrubs or herbaceous plants like thistles, grasses, and goldenrod. Notably, different species in this group inhabit different heights. 

For instance, some species like the green-striped tree cricket (Oecanthus nigricornis) feed on flowers found at short heights while others like the mountain meadow tree cricket (O. albicinctus) can be found at much higher altitudes in broad-leafed forests. 

Most impressive about these tiny creatures is their music-like chirping: for some species, it doubles as a thermometer! 

The temperature can be predicted by counting how often the white tree cricket (O. fultoni), also known as the thermometer cricket, chirps in 13 seconds and multiplying that number by 40 before converting it to degrees Fahrenheit. Truly incredible!

Tree Cricket Lifecycle

Tree crickets are the perfect example of a fascinating metamorphosis! 

Every winter, adult female tree crickets lay their eggs inside host plant stems – a safe place to ensure the eggs and larvae last through cold temperatures. Then in late spring or early summer, when temperatures are nice and mild, these tiny bitty eggs molt and spring to life as juvenile stages looking just like a small wingless copy of an adult. 

After partaking in five molts throughout the course of six weeks, they finish this incredible cycle by finally molting into adulthood with wings at which point they mature both sexually and physically.

tree crickets


Tree crickets are truly omnivorous creatures, as they like to feast on a wide variety of items! Although it might appear that their food choices are limited to small insects like aphids, the sweet songs of tree crickets belie how versatile their diets can actually be. 

Leaves, flowers, and even punctual items of fruits often make it onto the cricket’s plate! How did these resourceful bugs discover such an eclectic collection of food sources? Maybe it was luck or perhaps even keen trial-and-error experimentation until they found something that satisfied their cravings. 

However they got there, you’ve got to admire their creativity when it comes to finding tasty morsels in the wild!

Role in the Ecosystem

Tree crickets are perfectly adapted to their environment, with camouflage coloring that allows them to hide from predators – but even so, they form an important part of the food web in North America. 

From small spiders and wasps to larger birds and bats, tree crickets are an important source of protein during the growing season. Even migratory birds need plentiful sources of insects to feed on when they arrive in early summer, ensuring their young will prosper. 

Without these soft-bodied insects, the adults may struggle to produce eggs or fledglings – making tree crickets essential for bird life across the continent.

Are Tree Crickets Considered Pests?

Tree crickets are an interesting species in the family of crickets. As their name implies, they inhabit trees and can be heard singing at night when they are in season. Although these small-bodied insects have a seemingly pleasant chirp, many people consider them to be pests. 

They feed on leaves and nectar from plants and shrubs, making them a nuisance to gardeners who want to protect their plants. Additionally, tree crickets can carry diseases that can infect nearby gardens or homes if not taken care of appropriately. Despite this, some argue that these insects play an important role in healthy ecosystems as food for birds and other animals. 

Ultimately, whether or not tree crickets are considered “pests” ultimately depends on how they affect the environment they inhabit – while they may cause damage to certain environments, they can also contribute to healthier ecosystems in others.

tree crickets

How To Protect Your Garden from Tree Crickets?

For those of us lucky enough to have a garden, there is no greater misfortune than tree crickets taking it over. 

While they start out small, these insects can quickly wreak havoc on your lush plants and flowers, leaving you with wilted leaves and patches of bad luck. But it doesn’t have to be that way – with just a few simple steps, you can protect your garden from these pesky intruders! 

Pruning and trimming away any branches or grasses that might be close to the garden is one easy way to keep the tree crickets at bay. In addition, all dead leaves or stalks should be removed from the area in order to reduce potential hiding spots for the bugs. Finally, natural pest control options such as barriers and mulches around immediate areas of danger can help shield your lovely greens from harm. 

With these tactics employed in your garden-protection strategy, you can rest assured that your outdoor oasis will remain safe and sound!


Though you may not have realized it, those odd-looking insects in your garden are actually called tree crickets and they can be quite musical! While some people believe that tree crickets are nothing more than pests, others find their melodious singing a welcome addition to the summer night symphony.

Whichever camp you fall into, there’s no doubt that these fascinating creatures are worth learning more about.

Thanks for reading!