What Do Tree Crickets Eat? A Curious Guide to Their Diet

Tree crickets are fascinating creatures that you might not see often, but you’ve likely heard their distinctive chirps. They don’t live on the ground like their more common cousins; instead, they make their home in trees, bushes, and tall plants a foot or more above the ground. Their pale green bodies help them blend into their surroundings, making them difficult to spot but still a vital part of the ecosystem.

The diet of tree crickets is an essential part of their lives, as they control many pests, thus providing a natural balance in gardens and forests. Their primary food sources include aphids, scale insects, and other small plant pests, which is why tree crickets are considered beneficial insects. In fact, in a Michigan State University study, they were even observed eating the eggs of an apple pest called the codling moth.

Now that we’ve learned where tree crickets live and what they eat, it’s essential to understand their role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem. By feasting on various plant pests, they help protect plants from damage and keep our gardens and forests thriving. So next time you hear the faint chirps of a tree cricket, take a moment to appreciate the critical work they’re doing to preserve our natural environment.

What Are Tree Crickets

Tree crickets belong to the family Gryllidae and are part of the subfamily Oecanthinae. These insects are typically pale green and small, which allows them to blend in with their surroundings in trees, bushes, and tall plants. They are primarily found in the order Orthoptera, which also includes crickets, katydids, and grasshoppers.

As their name suggests, tree crickets mainly reside in trees rather than on the ground. You can find these fascinating creatures throughout various continents, regions, countries, and even islands. In the animal kingdom, tree crickets fall under the invertebrate class.

Different genera of tree crickets exist, with numerous species within each group. All of them share similar features, such as having two compound eyes and delicate bodies. Here are some of the main characteristics of tree crickets:

  • They belong to the subfamily Oecanthinae
  • They are usually pale green in color
  • They possess compound eyes to help them navigate their environment
  • They inhabit trees, bushes, and tall plants

Tree crickets are beneficial for the environment because they feed on plant pests like aphids and scale insects. For example, research has shown that tree crickets have been observed eating the eggs of a notorious apple pest – the codling moth. Embrace these fascinating creatures as friends to your garden!

Anatomy of Tree Crickets

As you explore the world of tree crickets, it’s essential to understand their anatomy. These small, delicate creatures have a unique body structure that allows them to thrive in their natural habitat.

Head and Antennae

The head of a tree cricket holds two large, compound eyes, which help them navigate their environment. Between these eyes, you’ll find their long antennae. These antennae are essential for detecting food, mates, and predators, making them a critical part of the cricket’s anatomy.

Wings and Legs

Tree crickets have two sets of wings: forewings and hind wings. The forewings are used as a shield to protect the hind wings, while the hind wings are necessary for flying. In addition to wings, tree crickets have three pairs of legs, with each pair serving a unique function.

  • Forelegs: Primarily used for walking and climbing
  • Middle legs: Aid in walking and provide stability
  • Hind legs: Specialized for jumping, giving tree crickets their characteristic agility

Ovipositor and Ears

The ovipositor is the egg-laying apparatus found in female tree crickets. This small, needle-like structure allows them to deposit their eggs in plant tissue, ensuring the next generation’s survival. Tree crickets also have a unique auditory system; their ears are located on their front legs, providing them with an excellent sense of hearing.

In summary, tree crickets have an intricate anatomy that suits their arboreal lifestyle. From their long antennae to their agile legs and specialized ears, these creatures have evolved to thrive in their environment. So next time you hear the soothing chirp of a tree cricket in the night, take a moment to appreciate their incredible design.

The Diet of Tree Crickets

Tree crickets are fascinating creatures known for their soothing songs. If you’ve ever wondered what these insects eat, let’s dive into their diet.

These crickets primarily feed on small insects such as aphids and ants, helping control pests in your garden. They also consume plant-based materials, including leaves, flowers, and grasses. In some cases, tree crickets even eat fruit, thereby providing a diverse dietary intake.

As nocturnal foragers, tree crickets exhibit a preference for certain food items:

  • Small insects: Aphids, ants, and scale insects are a major part of their diet.

  • Plant materials: They also feed on leaves, flowers, and grasses.

  • Fruits: Occasionally, tree crickets might snack on fruits.

It ultimately depends on their environment and the availability of food sources. For example, a tree cricket in an apple orchard may help control pests by eating the eggs of the codling moth, as documented by Michigan State University researchers.

In summary, tree crickets are opportunistic feeders that primarily eat small insects, along with various plant materials. As they adapt to their environment, they serve as beneficial insects by controlling pests and maintaining a balanced ecosystem.

Feeding Habits and Preferred Foods

Tree crickets are omnivorous insects, meaning they consume both plant and animal-based food sources. They have quite a diverse diet, which makes them adaptable in various environments. Here, we’ll take a look at their preferred food sources and feeding habits.

When it comes to plant-based foods, tree crickets eat a variety of produce items. They love munching on leafy greens like lettuce and tender vegetables like carrots and potatoes. As for fruits, they enjoy feasting on apples, oranges, and bananas. In addition to these sources, they also consume the nectar from flowers.

On the protein side of their diet, tree crickets prey on smaller insects like aphids and caterpillars. They also eat insect eggs, which makes them valuable in controlling pest populations. So, they help protect your garden from unwanted insects.

In terms of water, tree crickets obtain most of their moisture from the food they eat. However, they also drink water from dewdrops on plants and from shallow water sources when available.

To help you compare some of their preferred plant-based food sources, here’s a simple comparison table:

Food Type Consumed part
Lettuce Leafy green Leaves
Carrots Vegetable Root
Apples Fruit Flesh and skin
Oranges Fruit Flesh and juice
Bananas Fruit Flesh

As omnivores, tree crickets have their share of predators too. Birds, spiders, and some larger insects consider them a tasty treat. Given their dietary versatility, tree crickets play an important role in the food chain, both as hunters and prey.

By understanding the feeding habits and preferred foods of tree crickets, you might find it fascinating to observe them in their natural habitat or even appreciate their beneficial effects on your garden’s ecosystem.

Tree Cricket Behavior

Tree crickets are fascinating creatures with unique behaviors. In this section, we will explore some aspects of their daily lives, focusing on their eating habits, chirping, and nocturnal nature.

When it comes to their diet, tree crickets are primarily insectivores. That means that you typically find them feasting on small insects such as aphids, scale insects, and ants. Occasionally, they may also indulge in plant matter like leaves and flower buds.

You might be curious about their chirping sound which is an essential part of tree crickets’ behavior. Male tree crickets produce this sound to attract female mates. The chirping is made by rubbing their wings together, creating a high-pitched sound. So, if you ever hear a tree cricket’s song, it’s likely a male serenading nearby females!

Speaking of their activities, tree crickets are mostly nocturnal. This means that they are active during the night and rest during the day. As a result, you’re more likely to observe their various behaviors, such as feeding and chirping, under the cover of darkness.

In summary, tree crickets are fascinating creatures with specific eating habits, unique chirping sounds, and a preference for nighttime activity. Their insectivorous diet and nocturnal nature make these small insects important for maintaining the balance in ecosystems. Next time you hear a chirping sound during a warm night, you’ll know that it might just be a tree cricket singing its heart out.

Habitat and Distribution

Tree crickets are fascinating creatures that live in various habitats. You can typically find them in trees, bushes, and tall herbaceous plants at least a foot or so above the ground. Their delicate and pale green appearance allows them to blend in with their surroundings, making them difficult to spot.

These insects are quite widespread and can be found across the United States, as well as parts of Europe. In the US, you might notice the sound of tree crickets as they play a prominent role in the nighttime chorus of the summer months.

When it comes to their diet, tree crickets are quite beneficial for gardeners. They consume aphids, scale insects, and other soft-bodied pests that may affect the health of your plants.

So, if you happen to come across tree crickets in your garden or local parks, remember that they are an important part of the ecosystem. Not only do they offer a soothing soundtrack during warm summer nights, but they also help to curb the spread of problematic insects.

Species of Tree Crickets

There are various species of tree crickets, each with their unique features and characteristics. These insects belong to the subfamily Oecanthinae and are widely distributed around the world.

One example is the Snowy Tree Cricket (Oecanthus fultoni). It is renowned for its distinct song that is often referred to as the “temperature cricket.” You can even estimate the temperature by counting the number of chirps it produces in 13 seconds and then adding 40 to the total count.

Other species of tree crickets include:

  • Narrow-winged Tree Crickets (Oecanthus niveus)
  • Four-spotted Tree Crickets (Oecanthus quadripunctatus)
  • Two-spotted Tree Crickets (Neoxabea bipunctata)

Some common features among these species are:

  • Delicate, pale green bodies that blend in with their surroundings
  • Long and thin antennae
  • Round or flattened heads
  • Wings forming protective flaps on the sides of their bodies

In their natural habitat, tree crickets live in trees, bushes, and tall herbaceous plants, typically about a foot above the ground. Their diet mainly consists of small, soft-bodied insects like aphids, but they are known to be omnivorous and may also feed on fruits and leaves.

When it comes to comparing these species, it is essential to focus on their physical characteristics and songs. A comparison table highlighting the differences between the Snowy Tree Cricket and the Four-spotted Tree Cricket is provided below:

Characteristic Snowy Tree Cricket Four-spotted Tree Cricket
Body size 0.62 – 0.81 inches (16-21 mm) 0.59 – 0.82 inches (15-21 mm)
Body color Pale green Pale green with four small spots on wings
Habitat Trees and woody shrubs Trees, bushes, and tall herbaceous plants
Chirp temperature relationship The number of chirps in 13 seconds + 40 = approximate temperature in °F No known relationship with temperature

As you explore the various species of tree crickets, pay attention to their unique attributes and behavioral patterns. Understanding their ecological role will give you a deeper appreciation for the beautiful world of crickets.

Tree Crickets as Pets

Caring for tree crickets can be a unique and rewarding experience. As pets, these delicate creatures require special attention to their diet and habitat. Let’s explore some key points on how to create a comfortable environment for your tree cricket.

Firstly, ensure you provide a proper enclosure. Tree crickets love to climb and hide in foliage, so include plenty of live or artificial plants for them to explore. A well-ventilated enclosure such as a mesh or screen cage will help maintain airflow and allow your cricket to thrive.

Next, focus on their diet. Tree crickets primarily feed on small insects like aphids and scale insects. You can also supplement their diet with fruit and leaves to provide extra nutrients. Always ensure you offer fresh food and clean water regularly.

Consider these key features when creating your tree cricket’s habitat:

  • Adequate space and ventilation
  • Plenty of climbing structures and hiding places
  • A reliable source of small insects, fresh fruit, and leaves

Monitoring temperature and humidity is also important. Tree crickets prefer a warm, moderately humid environment, similar to their natural habitats. Invest in a thermometer and hygrometer to track these levels and make adjustments as needed.

Lastly, be mindful of noise levels. Tree crickets chorus day and night, producing their melodic trills. Some people find this soothing, while others may consider it a disturbance. Either way, be prepared to embrace these spirited singers in your home.

By following these guidelines and paying attention to your tree cricket’s needs, you can create a happy and healthy environment for your new pet. Remember to be patient and enjoy the process of learning more about these fascinating creatures.

Tree Crickets as Prey

Tree crickets are not only predators but also prey for various animals. They form an essential part of the food chain in their ecosystem. In this section, we will discuss some of the predators that feed on tree crickets.

Frogs and toads are natural predators of tree crickets. With their long, sticky tongues, they can easily snatch these small insects from the branches or leaves where they reside. Some examples of frogs and toads that might feed on tree crickets are the American green tree frogs and Fowler’s toads.

Lizards, such as geckos, also find tree crickets to be a delectable snack. Geckos, with their agile bodies and sticky feet, are able to climb on tree branches and leaves in search of food, making tree crickets an accessible prey for them.

Spiders are another group of predators that target tree crickets. They weave their webs near the plants where tree crickets live, waiting for their unsuspecting prey to get tangled in their silk. The well-camouflaged crab spiders are an excellent example of spider predators of tree crickets.

Birds like warblers, flycatchers, or shrikes can spot tree crickets easily due to their keen eyesight. These birds might swoop down from the sky or hop on branches to capture tree crickets as part of their regular diet.

Here’s a comparative overview of some of the tree cricket predators:

Predators Hunting Strategy Examples
Frogs Long, sticky tongues American green tree frogs
Toads Long, sticky tongues Fowler’s toads
Lizards Agile bodies and sticky feet Gecko
Spiders Webs near tree cricket habitats Crab spiders
Birds Keen eyesight, swooping or hopping on trees Warblers, flycatchers, shrikes

Unfortunately for tree crickets, they face many threats in their natural habitats. By understanding their predators, you can better appreciate the role tree crickets play in maintaining the balance of their ecosystem.

Tree Crickets and Humans

Tree crickets are fascinating creatures that play a role in nature and can have various interactions with humans. For example, some species of tree crickets serve as a valuable food source for both humans and pets. Edible crickets are known for their nutritional benefits, and they can even be farmed for sustainable utilization.

However, not every interaction with tree crickets is positive. While house crickets, camel crickets, and mole crickets are among the species that humans may encounter, these crickets can sometimes be considered pests. They might damage your property or invade your living spaces, causing discomfort.

To better understand how tree crickets relate to their human neighbors, let’s take a closer look at their dietary preferences:

  • House Crickets – These common crickets are often omnivorous, meaning they’ll consume plant material and small insects, including greens.
  • Camel Crickets – Also known as spider crickets, they are omnivorous as well, but they prefer a diet of fungi and decaying plant matter.
  • Mole Crickets – These burrowing crickets are mostly herbivorous and tend to feed on grasses, roots, and other organic materials.

Here’s a quick comparison table of these cricket species:

Cricket Type Diet Pest Potential Usability as Pet Food
House Omnivorous Yes Yes
Camel Fungi, Decaying Plant Matter Yes Yes
Mole Herbivorous Yes Limited

While tree crickets can be a nuisance as pests, they can also serve as a valuable pet food source. Insect-eating pets like reptiles and amphibians can benefit from the protein and nutrients that crickets provide. Just be sure to select the appropriate cricket species for your pet’s needs and be aware of any potential issues.

Overall, understanding the relationship between tree crickets and humans can help you better appreciate their role in nature and make informed decisions about managing pests or using these insects as a sustainable pet food source. Remember, it’s ultimately up to you to determine whether these interactions are beneficial or detrimental to your specific situation.

Reproduction in Tree Crickets

When it comes to the reproduction process of tree crickets, several stages are involved. In this brief section, you will learn about these stages, including the roles of male and female tree crickets, and how they ensure the survival of their species.

Eggs

Female tree crickets lay their eggs in various places, such as plant stems or the bark of trees. This provides protection and an ideal environment for the eggs to develop. Over time, these eggs hatch into the next stage of their life cycle: the larvae.

Females and Male Crickets

In the reproduction process, female tree crickets play the role of laying eggs, while male tree crickets are responsible for attracting a mate. Male tree crickets produce a unique, high-pitched sound to attract females. Once they have found a mate, they will fulfill their role in the reproductive process.

Adult Crickets and Larvae

After hatching from the eggs, the larvae go through several stages called instars before becoming adult tree crickets. As they grow and develop, the larvae feed on soft-bodied insects like aphids and scale insects to gain strength and energy source. Adult tree crickets continue to feed on these beneficial insects, which aids in maintaining a balanced ecosystem.

To sum it up, tree cricket reproduction involves multiple stages and crucial roles performed by both male and female crickets. This delicate, fascinating process ensures the continued existence of this unique insect species.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Tree Cricket

 

A bug for you
Hi there,
In the past week I have noticed quite a few of these little bugs running around. They remind me of a grasshopper so at first I was a little affraid that they are going to eat some of my plants, but then I noticed they just kind of ran around the leaves, reminded me of lady bugs so then I thought that maybe they would be great for me to keep around for aphids in my greenhouse. Know any information on them? Or atleast what it is?
James Gillis

Hi James,
This is a Tree Cricket in the genus Oecanthus. Immature Tree Crickets will nibble leaves and young shoots, but adults are important predators. They eat Aphids and Caterpillars. The added benefit is that they “sing”.

Letter 2 – Tree Cricket

 

Tree Cricket?
I can’t tell you what a find you were on the internet. Today, I was photographing insects on milk weed. I found six different insects. These three are not in any of my books.
They where in Orland Grassland in Orland Park Illinois.Thanks again… you are great!
Suzanne

Yes Suzanne,
You have a the Two-Spotted Tree Cricket, Neoxabea bipunctata, a female .

Letter 3 – Tree Cricket

 

some type of slender, green orthopteran?
Thu, Oct 9, 2008 at 2:49 PM
The picture says it all – found near Portland, OR, at the edge of a wetland area. It was observed on a tarweed plant, as pictured. My hand is in the background for scale.
I know a few insect Orders from a class I took in college, but that’s as clever as I get with this stuff. This is your cup of tea, not mine. Can you tell me what this pretty lil’ guy is called?
Heather Arndt Anderson
Portland, OR

Tree Cricket
Tree Cricket

Hi Heather,
This is a Tree Cricket in the genus Oecanthus.  We don’t feel confident enough to identify the species, but you may research the possibilities on BugGuide.

Letter 4 – Tree Cricket

 

Two-Spotted Tree Cricket
August 13, 2009
i too live in Ohio, near Dayton. just last night, i found a male two-spotted tree cricket on my kitchen blinds. i searched the internet in hopes to identify it, and found my answer here. my cricket had the same body, but was different in color – light all over with red eyes! i don’t see where I can upload a pic to show you, but thanks for the help!
betsy

Tree Cricket
Tree Cricket

Hi Betsy,
We cannot be certain that this is a Two Spotted Tree Cricket, but it is definitely some species of Tree Cricket.

Letter 5 – Tree Cricket

 

any idea what bug this is?
Location: Sierra Nevada foothills, California
December 2, 2010 9:41 pm
This picture was posted Nov. 29. The bug was about 3/4 of an inch long, very flat to the ground, color is pretty accurate. The picture was taken in the foothills of the western face of the Sierra Nevada in California. I don’t know if it was in an urban setting or rural or what. I searched through Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America and didn’t find it. And the person who posted the picture didn’t find it in a Sierra Nevada field guide. Maybe we both overlooked it. Do you have any idea what type of bug this is?
Signature: Thanks, Willie

Tree Cricket

Dear Willie,
This is a Tree Cricket in the genus
Oecanthus, possibly the Western Tree Cricket in its brown form, Oecanthus californicus, based on this image posted to BugGuide. There is some interesting information posted to BugGuide on the Snowy Tree Cricket or Thermometer Cricket, Oecanthus fultoni.

Letter 6 – Tree Cricket

 

Subject: Light green bug eating my garden
Location: Denver colorado
August 21, 2015 10:23 pm
Hello i live in Denver Colorado and have had an infestation of these bugs recently. I have been unable to identitify it on my one. Please help.
Signature: Thank you, Andrew H

Tree Cricket
Tree Cricket

Dear Andrew,
We are surprised to find out that this Tree Cricket and its relatives are so numerous that they are creating a problem with your garden.  Tree Crickets are one of the night time musicians of the insect world, and they along with Katydids are always welcome in our own garden.  We feel that the few leaves and flowers that are lost to their diet is a small price to pay for the many melodious nights they provide.

Letter 7 – Tree Cricket

 

Subject: Bug hunting
Location: Reesor pond morningside exit scarborough ontario
September 2, 2015 6:00 pm
sorry I know you have a small team but this guy was so cool he was hunging turning his wings into extra leaves so the prey would not see him. What the heck bugs are so cool. I am also sending a picture of the female got sight of both insects. These guys were movers hard to get a good shot. So again requesting an id. thanks
Signature: Terri Martin

Tree Cricket
Tree Cricket

Dear Terri,
This little beauty is a Tree Cricket, one of nature’s most vocal musicians.

Thanks Daniel .  Looks like I was wrong about the prey. He was singing for a mate. Still amazing.

Letter 8 – Tree Cricket

 

Subject: Whats That Bug
Location: Northeast Ohio
September 24, 2015 4:13 am
Photo taken in Northeast Ohio yesterday, do you know what this bug is? A second question for you: my four-year-old is a prolific bug catcher. Do you have any advice on a bug that might make a good indoor “pet” that she could keep alive for a while indoors?
Signature: Kelly

Tree Cricket
Tree Cricket

Dear Kelly,
This is a Tree Cricket, and we believe it is a male Two Spotted Tree Cricket,
Neoxabea bipunctata.  We believe this Tree Cricket is an excellent candidate for an indoor pet, and it can be kept in a small aquarium used as a terrarium with a screened to keep the Tree Cricket confined.  According to BugGuide:  “Two-spotted Tree Cricket, can be found on a wide variety of vegetation including (but not restricted to): Grapevine, Sunflower, Maple Tree, White Pine Tree, Apple Tree, Post Oak Tree. They are generally high on tall plants or in trees” and it “Presumably feeds on plants.”  In addition to being interesting to watch, there is an additional advantage to keeping a Tree Cricket as a pet.  According to BugGuide:  “Males sing mostly at night: a 10-second trill followed by several seconds of silence, then a trill again.”  We believe Tree Crickets generally live a single season, and their lives are often cut short by an early frost.  Keeping a pet Tree Cricket should extend the life of the individual by providing a more temperate environment free of killing frosts.

Awesome information! Thank you very much for taking the time to email!

Letter 9 – Tree Cricket

 

Subject:  What’s this bug?!
Geographic location of the bug:  Northern California
Date: 08/30/2017
Time: 04:38 AM EDT
It was making a very loud noise and flew into my house towards the light. It’s late August.
How you want your letter signed:  Thank you from Megan Osborn

Tree Cricket

Dear Megan,
This is a Tree Cricket, and they are quite loud.

Letter 10 – Tree Cricket

 

Subject:  What Bug is this?
Geographic location of the bug:  Meaford,Ontario
Date: 08/30/2021
Time: 12:02 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I found this bug in my family’s RV and have no idea what it is. It is currently summer here in Canada.
How you want your letter signed:  Joseph

Tree Cricket

Dear Joseph
This is a Tree Cricket.  Tree Crickets are among the most vocal of night calling insects.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

3 thoughts on “What Do Tree Crickets Eat? A Curious Guide to Their Diet”

  1. I am glad to know what the Tree Cricket is. The night musicians that are always welcome in your back yard are NOT in mine. My geranium blossoms and buds keep being shredded.I can just about keep ahead of the budworms by picking them off at dawn and dusk but these new tree cricket guys are the worst!
    Denver native. SW Denver Foothills 6300’

    Reply

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