Our Insect Musicians – Beginner’s Guide to Song Identification

Learning the songs of singing insects is both challenging and fun. It is very exciting to being able to put a name to the singer that you are hearing. The first thing is to become familiar with the terminology for the various sounds these singers make.

— the quintessential sound of a cricket. Chirps are short, pure-toned sounds that can be composed of one or more syllables.
— a long, continuous series of syllables. Pure-toned in the crickets and raspy or lispy in the katydids.
— a brief, but drawn-out soft note, or notes, given by many katydids.
— a short, staccato sound made by many katydids.
— a brief, fuzzy note made by many katydids.
— a long series of lispy syllables forming a trill.
— a long series of harsh notes strung together made by many katydids.
Syllable — a individual note that is produced by the engagement of one tooth of the file with the scraper.

When listening to the songs of singing insects, determine whether the song is pure-toned, as sung by crickets, or harsh, as sung by katydids. This will immediately place you in one “family” or the other and allow you to narrow down the identification much more quickly. Listen for the timing of the sounds, do they come as a short series, a long continuous trill, is there any pattern to the sounds, are the sounds harsh or mellow. With a little practice you’ll be amazed at how many species you can identify by ear.

Remember, there are a few closely related species that sound very similar. To identify some of these songs to species you’ll have to record the sounds and then go to the Advanced Guid to Song IDs.


Our Insect Musicians:

Biology of Insect Song
Human Hearing & Insect Song
Beginner’s Guide to Song IDs
Advanced Guide to Song IDs
How to Find and Watch
Singing Insects as Pets
Relaxing Insect MP3s

Master List of Species
(with sounds)

Navigate to Species Pages:

[expand title=”Crickets” cookiename=”crickets” rel=”cricketsXX”]


[expand title=”Katydids” cookiename=”katydids” rel=”katydidsXX”]

Meadow Katydids (Tettigoniidae):
Saltmarsh Meadow Katydid
Short-winged Meadow Katydid
Slender Meadow Katydid
Woodland Meadow Katydid
Straight-lanced Meadow Katydid
Agile Meadow Katydid
Black-legged Meadow Katydid
Common Meadow Katydid
Gladiator Meadow Katydid
Handsome Meadow Katydid
Lesser Pine Meadow Katydid
Long-spurred Meadow Katydid
Red-headed Meadow Katydid
Coneheads (Copiphorinae):
Round-tipped Conehead
Nebraska Conehead
Robust Conehead
Slightly Musical Conehead
Sword-bearing Conehead
False Robust Conehead
True Katydids (Pseudophyllinae):
Common True Katydid
False Katydids (Phaneropterinae):
Clicker Round-winged Katydid
Common Virtuoso Katydid
Rattler Round-winged Katydid
Oblong-winged Katydid
Great Angle-wing
Lesser Angle-wing
Broad-winged Bush Katydid
Curved-tailed Bush Katydid
Fork-tailed Bush Katydid
Northern Bush Katydid
Texas Bush Katydid
Treetop Bush Katydid
Shield-backed Katydids (Tettigoniinae):
American Shieldback
Least Shieldback
Protean Shieldback
Robust Shieldback
Roesel’s Katydid


[expand title=”Grasshoppers (Locusts)” cookiename=”grasshoppers” rel=”grasshoppersXX”]