How Do Crickets, Grasshoppers, and Cicadas Sing?

Insects Sounds Are a Summer Symphony. Here’s How They Play Their Songs.

By late summer, the most common singing insects—grasshoppers, katydids, crickets, and cicadas—have begun their courtship calls in earnest and the air is filled from morning to night with their buzzes and chirps. How do these insects make their distinctive sounds? The answer varies depending on the insect.

Crickets and Katydids

Crickets, katydids, and grasshoppers all belong to the order Orthoptera. Crickets and katydids produce sound by rubbing their wings together. At the base of the forewing, there is a thick, ridged vein that acts as a file. The upper surface of the forewing is hardened, like a scraper. When the male cricket calls for a mate, he lifts his wings and pulls the file of one wing across the scraper of the other. The thin, papery portions of the wings vibrate, amplifying the sound. This method of producing sound is called stridulation, which comes from Latin, meaning «to make a harsh sound.»

Only male crickets produce sounds and not all species of crickets chirp. Crickets actually produce different calls for different purposes. The calling song, which may be heard for distances up to a mile, helps the female find the male. The female responds only to the unique, characteristic sound of her own species. Once she is near, the male switches to a courtship song to convince her to mate with him—and, in some cases, the male sings a post-copulation celebratory song as well. Crickets also chirp to establish their territory and defend it against competing males.

Some crickets, such as mole crickets, dig tunnels in the ground with megaphone-shaped entrances. When the males sing from just inside the burrow openings, the shape of the tunnel amplifies the sound enabling it to travel across a broader range of distance.

Unlike crickets, in some species of katydids, the females are also capable of stridulation. Females chirp in response to the shrill of the males. The call they produce sounds like «Katy did!»—which is how they got their name. The males can expect to hear this courtship song in late in the summer.

Cricket Sounds: Why Do Crickets Chirp?

Most people have experienced the sound of crickets chirping on a warm summer evening. While most species of crickets sing primarily at night, some crickets chirp during daytime and nighttime hours.

Cricket sounds: What do they mean?

Different cricket species produce different types of sounds. For instance, in Gryllus bimaculatus (field cricket), the chirping sounds can reach up to 100 decibels, while Gryllotalpa vineae (mole cricket) chirps at about 88 decibels. For comparison, a car’s horn reaches about 110 decibels, and referee whistles can be approximately 115–125 decibels.

Male crickets produce sounds by rubbing their leathery front wings together, i.e., file-like serrations on the wings’ edges rub against a sharp edge (scraper). This is called “stridulation” and is used to attract female crickets as mates. When this sound is being produced, the cricket’s wings are elevated. Each time the wings rub together, this is called a “pulse” and the pulse rate is impacted by factors such as temperature, e.g., faster rate during warmer temperatures. Pulse rate and the pattern of the pulses also differ between cricket species.

Both male and female crickets hear through ears that are located on their front legs. Female crickets do not produce sounds but will walk or fly to singing males, following a behavioral pattern called “phonotaxis” (movement toward a sound). In an outdoor environment, an approximately 5-decibel dB difference in the male cricket’s chirp can make the difference in whether a female moves (or does not move) in his direction (Hiertenlehner and Romer 2014). The same study noted that competing noises (from other male crickets and human sources) can impact the phonotaxis direction of female crickets.

What kind of sound makes a more attractive mate?

If several crickets are chirping at the same time, crickets will adjust the timing of the sounds produced. Studies have shown that male crickets leading the calls — rather than because of a certain call length or pattern — are more attractive to female crickets. A study on Gryllus pennsylvanicus (the fall field cricket) indicated that females of this species tend to choose older males (chirp for shorter pulse periods) as mates more frequently than younger males (Judge 2011). The same study hypothesizes that, in areas where females prefer older males, these males may be inhabiting areas with rich food resources and, consequently, live longer and produce songs more frequently.

A recent study showed that exterior noise level (e.g., road noise) may cause Oecanthus pellucens (tree cricket) to pause their chirping during periods of high noise, but these crickets do not change the frequency or length of the song (Orci et al. 2016).

Sounds can also be produced by male crickets to ward off enemies. This “alarm” sound may occur when a rival male enters another male’s territory.

Cricket Sounds Can Be Risky for Crickets

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Male crickets singing songs to attract (silent) females can also attract the attention of parasitoid predators. A certain type of parasitoid fly, the tachinid fly, listens for cricket sounds so she can lay her eggs on crickets. After the parasitoid fly eggs hatch into larvae and begin feeding on the cricket, the cricket dies within a week or so.

Orci KM, Petroczki K, Barta Z (2016) Instantaneous song modification in response to fluctuating traffic noise in the tree cricket Oecanthus pellucens. Animal Behavior 111: 187-194.

What Do Centipedes Eat?

Although not terribly common, these insects are capable of finding their way inside houses. Centipedes are known for their multiple sets of long legs and their characteristic alien-like appearance.

Do Mosquitoes Prefer a Certain Blood Type?

Are you one of the lucky people who seem to be a mosquito magnet? If so, you may have wondered why. Is it something in your skin, or do mosquitoes prefer a certain blood type?

When are Mosquitoes Most Active?

Have you ever wondered why mosquitoes seem to be more active during certain times of the year or even certain times of day?

Why Do Ants Crawl in a Line?

At some point or another, almost everyone has watched a string of ants march across a sidewalk or kitchen floor. Ant behavior such as this is pretty fascinating. But why do ants crawl, or technically walk, in a line?

Are Mosquitoes Attracted to Color?

There are several common beliefs about what attracts mosquitoes to humans. One of these is color. Can color actually help mosquitoes find you?

What is a Cocoon?

Many people probably think they know what a cocoon is. Well, the answer is actually more complex than it seems. Certain types of insects build cocoons, and cocoons are different from other types of insect casings.

Do Bees Die After Stinging?

It’s commonly believed that bees die after stinging, but is this true, and are their stings dangerous? Read on to find out more.

Mosquito Spray: Does it Work?

Are Mosquito Repellent Coils Effective?

When it comes to mosquitoes, the biggest question most people have is how to keep them away. It can be difficult to know where to begin, with the number of products claiming to do this and repel that, and all the DIY methods that promise just as effective results

Do Earwigs Bite?

If you shudder a little when you think about earwigs, you’re probably not alone. They’ve developed quite a nasty reputation, thanks to urban legends (mostly false) that have been circulating for years. But are they harmful?

Cluster Flies In Your Home

If you’re like many homeowners, you’ve dealt with annoying flies ruining your summer barbecues and outdoor dinner parties. You may have even become accustomed to whipping out the flypaper and heavy-duty bug zappers the minute you hear the familiar buzz of a fly. These annoying pests are likely house flies, which can pose significant health risks to you and your family. But have you ever seen large, sluggish flies loitering inside your home in the autumn and winter? They may be cluster flies.

Ticks vs. Bed Bugs: The Big Difference

You never want to see a tick on your body or a bed bug in your home. And especially when it comes to the latter, seeing one usually means there are others around. On the surface, ticks and bed bugs might seem similar: They are both pests that like to bite and feed on blood. But in fact, there’s more than one difference between these two creatures

Tips to Get Rid of Stink Bugs in Your House

Now that it’s fall, it’s officially indoor stink bug season. Before it becomes winter, brown marmorated stink bugs are looking for comfortable overwintering sites to spend the cold months—and that can often mean that they may find a way to sneak into your house. While the odor that a stink bug releases is not dangerous, they are definitely a nuisance. Luckily, there are steps you can take to get rid of stink bugs in your house—without having to deal with the unpleasant smell.

Why Do Crickets Stop Chirping When Approached?

How a Cricket Knows a Predator Is Near

There’s nothing more maddening than trying to find a chirping cricket in your basement. It will sing loudly and ceaselessly until the moment you approach when it abruptly stops chirping. How does a cricket know when to hush?

Why Do Crickets Chirp?

Male crickets are the communicators of the species. The females wait for the songs of the males to spur the mating ritual. Female crickets don’t chirp. Males make the chirping sound by rubbing the edges of their forewings together to call for female mates. This rubbing is called stridulation.

Some species of crickets have several songs in their repertoire. The calling song attracts females and repels other males, and it’s fairly loud. This song is used only during the day in safe places; crickets aggregate at dawn without the use of acoustic calling. These groupings are typically not courtship displays or leks because they don’t assemble for the sole purpose of mating.

The cricket courting song is used when a female cricket is near, and the song encourages her to mate with the caller. An aggressive song allows male crickets to interact aggressively with one another, establish territory, and claim access to females in that territory. A triumphal song is produced for a brief period after mating and may reinforce the mating bond to encourage the female to lay eggs rather than find another male.

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Mapping Cricket Chirping

The different songs used by crickets are subtle, but they do vary in pulse numbers and hertzes, or frequency. Chirp songs have one to eight pulses, spaced at regular intervals. Compared with aggressive songs, courtship chirps tend to have more pulses and shorter intervals between them.

Crickets chirp at different rates depending on their species and the temperature of their environment. Most species chirp at higher rates the higher the temperature is. The relationship between temperature and the rate of chirping is known as Dolbear’s law. According to this law, counting the number of chirps produced in 14 seconds by the snowy tree cricket, common in the United States, and adding 40 will approximate the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit.

Crickets «Hear» Vibrations

Crickets know when we approach because they are sensitive to vibrations and noises. Since most predators are active during daylight, crickets chirp at night. The slightest vibration might mean an approaching threat, so the cricket goes quiet to throw the predator off its trail.

Crickets don’t have ears like we do. Instead, they have a pair of tympanal organs on their forewings (tegmina), which vibrate in response to vibrating molecules (sound to humans) in the surrounding air. A special receptor called the chordotonal organ translates the vibration from the tympanal organ into a nerve impulse, which reaches the cricket’s brain.

Crickets are extremely sensitive to vibration. No matter how soft or quiet you try to be, a cricket will get a warning nerve impulse. Humans hear something first, but crickets always feel it.

A cricket is always on the alert for predators. Its body color, usually brown or black, blends in with most of its environments. But when it feels vibrations, it responds to the nerve impulse by doing what it can to hide—it goes silent.

How to Sneak Up on a Cricket

If you’re patient, you can sneak up on a chirping cricket. Each time you move, it will stop chirping. If you remain still, eventually it will decide it’s safe and begin calling again. Keep following the sound, stopping each time it goes silent, and you’ll eventually find your cricket.


Crickets live all over Australia and you have probably heard them — but maybe not seen one.

The most common is the Black Field Cricket. Only the male of this species ‘chirp’ by rubbing their wings together. They do it to attract females, to woo them, and to warn off other male competitors.

Black Field Crickets are widespread in eastern and southern Australia. It’s not hard to spot one jumping around as they grow to about 2.5 cm long. Their body and wings are brown, and their heads, long antennas and hind legs are all black. Adult crickets live for about three months.

It’s quite tricky to sneak up on a cricket. Their chirps often sound like they are coming from somewhere else. But they will jump if surprised, so you may see where it lands if you disturb one.

How do you tell a female cricket from a male, if neither is chirping? The female has a long cylindrical tube at the rear of her body. This is her ‘ovipositor’ which she uses for laying 2 mm wide eggs about 1 cm into the soil where they will be safe.

Black Field Crickets lay their eggs around April. A female can lay up to 1,500 to 2,000 eggs and she lays them from late summer to late autumn. These eggs remain dormant over the winter and hatch in spring.

Young crickets, known as nymphs, grow slowly through 9 to 10 nymph stages as they gradually develop into adults. Juvenile Black Field Crickets are similar in appearance to adults but lack wings and have a distinctive white band around their middle. It is only in the later nymph stages that they develop wings and females also develop an ovipositor.

Black Field Crickets have only one generation a year, with some overlap with the early and late stage nymphs and the adult crickets. It is usually only the adults which are heard and seen, as the youngsters blend in extremely well with tufts of grass.

These crickets love heavy clay-like soils which crack when they dry out. Cracks provide safe places for the crickets to hide during the day, especially when it is hot or there are predators such as birds around. At night, Black Field Crickets emerge to feed on plants.

Normally, Black Field Crickets are mostly a ground living insect, but will take to the air when numbers are too great and food becomes scarce.

Crickets usually live outside but may come inside to get away from waterlogged ground after rains, or when the weather turns very cold.

Popular hang outs are corners, window sills, cabinets and couches. In the garden they eat insects, but once inside, the menu offers furniture fabrics, clothes, paper and kitchen scraps. Of particular attraction to crickets are wallpaper and its glue.

Normally, crickets feed on decaying plant material and insect remains, and are prey to birds, mice, frogs, possums and many other creatures. They are an important animal in the food chain.

You can tell a Short-Horned grasshopper from a cricket by the size of their antennae. Crickets have longer antennae than these grasshoppers. Most grasshoppers also feed on plant material, whereas crickets are omnivores. Also crickets are mainly nocturnal, whereas Short-Horned grasshoppers are active during the day.

Black Field Crickets are good buddies to have in your garden as they will help aerate your soil, which helps water penetrate into it.

Did you know?

Crickets have ‘ears’ in their legs just below their knees. The ear drums, one on each foreleg, are sensitive membranes which act as receivers of differences in pressure and can help crickets find a mate, be forewarned about predators or locate prey.

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The most common crickets in backyards are the House Cricket, Mole Cricket and Black Field Cricket. The King cricket is large and flightless and can devour funnel web spiders with its enormous, terrifying-looking mouth parts. It’s usually only found in rainforests. You can recognise crickets and grasshoppers by their ‘song’ which they make by rubbing parts of each wing together. They have a hardened area on one wing which is scraped against ridges on the other, like a file.

Insect Sounds: Telling Crickets, Cicadas And Katydids Apart

What the Noise Is

At night, one of the many sounds outside is the noise coming from crickets. This noise is actually called «chirping.» Contrary to popular belief, chirping is not the result of crickets rubbing their legs together and not all crickets are able to chirp.

Physical Process

Chirping is only done by male crickets to attract the attention of female crickets. The left wing of a male cricket is ribbed, with 50 to 300 ridges. This surface is called the file. The top part of the right wing is called the scraper. When the left wing is raised to a 45-degree angle and the scraper part of the right wing is rubbed against it, it results in a chirping sound. The technical name for this action is stridulation.

Why Crickets Make Noise

Crickets are nocturnal, so they chirp at night. This is the reason we never hear this noise during the daytime. We’re also more likely to hear chirping in the spring and summer since in warmer weather, the crickets are more active.

There are four types of chirping. A loud calling song is used to attract females. A soft courting song is used when a female cricket is near. An aggressive chirping is set off when another male is coming near. And another chirp is used for a brief time after successful copulation.

According to Dolbear’s law, it is actually possible to know the temperature outside (Fahrenheit) by counting the number of a cricket’s chirps in 14 seconds and adding 40 to that number.



Insect sound library of buzzing, humming and swarming sounds featuring bees, flies, mosquitoes and other winged insects.


From massive swarms in different densities and activity levels to individual passby sounds and landings, this insect sound library covers pretty much all variants of insect wing buzz sounds.
Below is a quick audio demo using 18 of the 185 sounds in the collection.


14 long takes (up to 9 minutes in length) of bee swarm sounds, recorded beehives containing more than 10.000 bees. Close sounds were captured by placing the tiny DPA 4060 microphones inside the wooden containers housing the beehives. For other takes the Sennheiser MKH microphones were positioned at the entrance and between containers, creating detailed passes of worker bees entering and leaving the hive, taking off and landing. A few recordings were made a bit further away from the swarm, resulting in a more distant “garden” perspective. We also made a very close recording of bees aggressively defending the hive, while a honeycomb was removed by the beekeeper and replaced with liquid sugar for feeding purposes.

Recording the sound of a single bee


recording fly sound effects

The collection includes 19 fly swarm sounds featuring different species, and varied swarm densities and activity levels. These swarm sound recordings range from 1 to 6 minutes in length. In addition, there are 51 other sounds of flies (single insects, different species) flying and landing, captured in a controlled environment.


Recording cicada sounds in a field in Greece

The isolated sounds of cicadas were captured outdoors in remote pine forests in Greece, while the cricket sounds were recorded in a studio environment. You’ll find various chirping sounds of individuals and small groups in this insect sound library.

Recording the sounds of a single cicada in Greece


Recording mosquito sounds at laboratory

I got access to a laboratory and recorded mosquito swarms in an insectary, covering different sized groups and single insects in isolation. In addition, this insect sound collection includes seamless loops of continuous, designed mosquito wing buzz sounds.

Recording malaria mosquitoes in high security area


synthesized wing sounds of a mosquito, spectrogram view.

In order to complement the insect recordings we synthesized continuous sounds for different species from scratch where recording them did not make sense. The advantage of creating a very constant buzz sound is that it allows the sound designer to precisely adapt the source audio to the flight path of an insect in a given scene, – however complex the movement might be – or use it as a loop in a game engine and attach it to a moving sound source. The designed sounds will be useful to mimic the sound of many flying insects such as bees, flies, mosquitoes, bugs, moths, wasps and “fantasy” creatures. We also designed a wide variety of insect flybys in different speeds and flavors to complement the “real” recordings making “Insects & Swarms” the most comprehensive sound collection of flying insects in existence today.


Recorder: Sound Devices 633, Sonosax SX-R4+
Mics: 2 x Neumann TLM 103 cardoids, 2 x DPA 4060 omnis, 2 x Sennheiser MKH 8040 cardoids.


20% of all yearly profits from this sound collection will be donated to NABU and WWF , to help save bees and other endangered species.


Recording beehive interior sounds

Getting ready for bee sound recording!

isolated gnat sound recording

185 WAV sounds of bees, flies, mosquitoes, cicadas and designed insect sounds

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