Four field crickets
Three ground crickets
Some memorable songs
The songs assembled here are accessible elsewhere on this site on the "species pages" of the species that produce them. For each song below, you can go to the corresponding species page by clicking on the common name of the species. On species pages you will find song samples of longer duration and greater variety than are offered here. You will also find distribution maps, multiple images (in color and black-and-white), references, and more.
Field crickets are among the most commonly heard and encountered crickets in North America. They are so similar in appearance that until their calling songs were studied, all were placed in a single species. Below are two-second samples of the songs of four of the species that occur in the eastern United States.
Ground crickets live on the ground as do field crickets but are much smaller. Their songs are weaker and higher pitched and thus are not as intrusive. The first two species below are often abundant in lawns and were not recognized as distinct until their songs were studied. The third species is common in the leaf litter of well-drained wooded areas.
Persons who have poor hearing at the higher frequencies may have trouble hearing this song. Click on the sound bar below to hear the song played at one-fourth speed. This lowers the dominant frequency to one-fourth of what it was and increases the duration by a factor of 4.
Insect songs seldom attract the attention of those who hear them, but a few species, for a variety of reasons, are much more likely to be listened to and remembered than others. Here are songs of two North American species that are especially likely to have been heard and remembered.
This species is abundant in hardwood forests throughout the eastern United States, where its raucous, nocturnal calls fill the air in summer. The song of the common true katydid has regional dialects. The dialect above is heard in the northeastern states. In the southeastern dialect the phrases have more pulses and the pulses are produced at a faster rate. In the southwestern dialect the phrases have few pulses and the pulses are produced at a slow rate. For the waveforms and distributions of all dialects, go to the species page.
This species occurs in dooryards and open stands of hardwoods throughout the United States except in the Southeast. Its song is memorable in at least three respects: (1) Especially at low temperatures, the song is melodius and haunting. [Nathaniel Hawthorne (1851) wrote, "If moonlight could be heard, it would sound just like that."] (2) Because its chirps are produced regularly and at rates that are easy to count, the pace of the song can be used to estimate the temperature at which the cricket is singing. (3) Neighboring individuals synchronize their chirps, so that a shrub or tree with many individuals throbs with the same rhythm as that of a solitary singer. Here are 6-second song samples of a cold cricket (55F=13C), a warm cricket (77F=25C), and two crickets calling in synchrony.
The loudest insect song in North America is produced by a coneheaded katydid. Under favorable conditions its song can be heard from as far as 500 meters.
If you were disappointed in the loudness when you played the song, it is probably because the intensity of this sample was made to match that of other song samples on this page. If you want to hear it louder, turn up the volume on your computer's playback system! It that does not work, perhaps your ears can hear no frequencies above 7 kHz making you deaf to the calling song of this species whose principal frequencies are above that value.
In addition to being loudest, this species has the fastest stridulatory wing-stroke rate of any katydid—208 cycles of wing movement per second in the example above. The song must be slowed to one-sixteenth speed to allow individual wing-movement cycles to be heard. Click on the sound bar below to hear one-eighth second of song slowed to one-sixteenth speed. This increases the duration of the sample to 2 seconds and lowers the peak frequency to about 0.4 kHz, allowing some 26 wing-movement cycles to be heard.
Most insect songs become repetitious very quickly (after less than 0.005 second for the full-speed song above!), but a group of U.S. katydids known as "virtuoso katydids" have songs that last for many seconds before they begin to repeat. The 40-second waveform below shows two consecutive songs of the katydid species that produces the most complex songs. If you have trouble hearing high frequencies, you may hear little or nothing because most of the energy in the song is at frequencies higher than 10 kHz.
If you have reduced high-frequency hearing, click on the sound bar below to hear the song slowed to one-quarter speed. This makes the duration 1 minute and the highest strong frequencies 4 kHz or less. Even if your high-frequency hearing is superb, you may wish to play this more leisurely version in order to hear the song in greater detail.