Oecanthus spp.

Common name - Tree crickets (Ball et al., 1942).

Geographic distribution - some species are widely distributed in North America (Ball et al., 1942). In Colorado Oecanthus niveus (DeGeer) (snowy tree cricket) and Oecanthus quadripunctatus Beutenmuller (four-spotted tree cricket) are found on the eastern plains and foothills. Oecanthus argentinus Saussure (prairie tree cricket) is found from the eastern plains to the eastern mountain foothills. Oecanthus californicus Saussure (western tree cricket) is found in the western foothills and western mountain valleys (Ball et al., 1942; Hebard, 1929).

Habitat - on trees, bushes, alfalfa and weeds. Often found on goldenrod, wild sunflowers and scrub oak (Ball et al., 1942; Blatchley, 1920; Hebard, 1929).

Food habits - omnivorous, feeding upon leaves, flowers, fruit, fungi and such small insects as aphids, and scales (Ball et al., 1942).

Eggs - eggs are deposited singly and irregularly in tree or shrub bark or singly and in fairly regular rows in the pith of twigs, berry stems, grape vines and weed stems. The eggs of O. quadripunctatus are bright yellow with one end white (Blatchley, 1920; Cantrall, 1943).

Nymph - five instars (Ramsey, 1964).

Adult - small, slender and delicate. Color is light. Wings are fully developed. Male tegmina are paddle shaped, flattened, firm in texture and semi-transparent. Female tegmina are narrow and wrapped around the body. Her ovipositor is straight and shorter than the hind femora. It is blunt and tipped with black. Body length, 19 mm. It is active at night but can be seen in the day. Song is loud (Ball et al., 1942; Blatchley, 1920).

Oviposition - eggs are deposited in the stems of trees, shrubs and smaller plants with a soft fiber and pithy interior. The female chews into the outer covering of the plant. She gives a series of quick thrusts into this pit with her ovipositor. Eggs then are deposited in the soft interior. She then plugs the hole with excrement or chewed bark (Ball et al.,1942; Froeschner 1954).

Seasonal history - overwinters in the egg stage and hatches in spring (Froeschner, 1954).

Abundance and importance - oviposition habits are damaging to plants, but the harm is offset by the good done by the tree crickets feeding on harmful insects (Ball et al., 1942 Blatchley, 1920).

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