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The Fall Field Cricket (Gryllus pennsylvanicus) is one of ten species of Gryllus crickets known from the eastern United States (at least twice that many, mostly undescribed as of 2004, are known from the western states). The Fall Field Cricket is among the several eastern Gryllusspecies found in pastures, lawns, and other open areas. The songs of the Fall Field Cricket, Spring Field Cricket (G. veletis), and Sand Field Cricket (G. firmus) are all loud, clear chirps delivered at a rate of 1 to 3 per second. Field crickets sing both day and night, but are typically quiet at dawn.
Fall Field Crickets are large, shiny black, and round-headed. The tegmina range from light brown to black. Females of the generally larger Sand Field Cricket have an ovipositor whose length tends to exceed body length whereas the ovipositor in the Fall and Spring Field Crickets is generally shorter than the body. Fall and Spring Field Crickets are nearly identical in appearance.
The Fall and Spring Field Crickets each have a single generation annually, but they overwinter in different stages. The Spring Field Cricket overwinters as a mid-sized juvenile and matures in spring. Its adults are dying out by the time Fall Field Crickets, which overwinter in the egg stage, begins to mature and call. The rich chirping of Fall and Spring Field Crickets is a familiar and seemingly ubiquitous sound across their wide range (and, through movies, beyond). Noticing the period between the demise of most of the Spring Field Crickets and the maturation of significant numbers of Fall Field Crickets at a particular location has been described as "like catching an eclipse of sound" (Himmelman 2009). In the northeastern U.S., the Spring Field Cricket reaches maturity from April into July; Fall Field Crickets are found as adults from August through early frost (adults of both species may be present from late July to early August).
The Fall Field Cricket probably ranges over most of the United States except for most of the southeastern coastal plain. Both Spring and Fall Field Crickets are found in a wide variety of habitats and are common around buildings, where they hide in cracks and crevices, under rocks, or in shallow burrows. As winter approaches, field crickets are attracted to warmth and often find their way into houses and other buildings.
(Capinera et al. 2004; Elliott and Hershberger 2007)
Although R.D. Alexander and R.S. Bigelow, mid- 20th century pioneers of the study of the behavior and diversity of crickets and katydids, developed the appealing hypothesis that the Fall and Spring Field Crickets diverged from a common ancestor by "allochronic speciation", i.e., through a divergence of overwintering stage (Bigelow 1958; Alexander and Bigelow 1960; Alexander 1968), subsequent molecular phylogenetic studies have indicated that these two species are not in fact each other's closest relatives, making this hypothesis untenable (Harrison and Bogdanowicz 1995; Huang et al. 2000).