Aug 20 2013
This month as I enter Schenley Park and walk up tree-lined Greenfield Road I begin to worry. With the sound of the expressway on my left and street traffic on my right my ears are overloaded with an additional high-pitched noise. Are my ears ringing?
I experiment by looking up while listening. It’s worse. I plug my ears. It’s a little better. The sound of traffic makes it hard to pick out. What is that high-pitched whirring sound?
August is bug season so I’ve come to the conclusion that the sound is tree crickets, probably one of these (click here). Maybe the Four-spotted tree cricket (Oecanthus quadripunctatus) who sings day and night and is common along roadsides.
To give you an idea of what I’m hearing, click here for the four-spotted tree cricket and a video with his song. (The video repeats with a pause at the end. The sound on Greenfield Road never pauses, there are so many.)
I would try to find these insects but all the online sources say they’re very hard to see — and that’s coming from the experts! So I’m accepting this as the song of tree crickets and resting assured that my hearing is not in danger.
For more information on tree crickets I recommend this website: Tree Crickets Sweet Sounds of Summer by Nancy Collins at www.oecanthinae.com where you can find close-up photos, songs and videos.
p.s. In settings with less background noise I’ve noticed the tree crickets are in full force this week.
(photo of a broad-winged tree cricket (NOT a four-spotted tree cricket) from Wikimedia Commons. Click on the image to see the original)