Janet Guy's picture

Insect sound

Observed: 15th July 2010 By: Janet Guy

This observation may be of interest to you if the creature concerned is identified as either something unusual or one outside its usual range.
Throughout July last year (2010), whenever the sun was shining I heard a strange sound coming from bushes in our garden boundary, obviously from some insect. It was a very, very high-pitched squeak lasting 2-3 seconds with a 1 second pause between bursts. Either there were several of them or it could throw its voice, as I seemed to hear it from other places as well. Whenever the sun went in it went quiet. It was not rasping or ticking, but a pure squeak, occasionally starting with a slight stammer “ta-ta-tee”. It carried so that I could clearly hear it from the other side of the garden 60 feet away but was so high-pitched that my husband could not hear it at all. However he recorded it digitally, then transferred it to a reel-to-reel recorder to slow it down and reduce it by an octave. The first attempt didn’t work as it was obviously outside the frequency range of the recorder, but then he put it on a professional machine, and could then hear it. However it was still very high-pitched, and sounded like a smooth whine or whistle, going up in pitch slightly at the end. The best description of the sound that I can think of is like the whine that some TVs used to make.
August was cloudy and breezy and we heard it no more, and it hasn’t been there this year. I’ve heard grasshoppers and crickets, but never anything like that before.
Our garden is on the northern slopes of a hill in Church Stretton, South Shropshire, about 800 ft up, and on clay soil, if that is of any help. The front garden where the insect was faces west and gets hot in the summer afternoons.
Any ideas?

  • Cricket or grasshopper
    Confidence: It's likely to be this, but I can't be certain.
Species interactions

No interactions present.


jonmortin's picture

I have a chart which shows

I have a chart which shows the song patterns of grasshoppers and crickets. The high pitched song sounds a bit like a Conehead (Conocephalus sp) but their song is more or less continuous. The Great Green Bush Cricket has a song pattern in short bursts like you describe, but I don't think it is particularly high pitched. It is meant to sound like a sewing machine. Also much rarer, although a few records from Worcestershire. Hopefully someone with more specialised knowledge will respond...

Moo's picture


Are you sure your sound couldn't be from a small bird?

I also remember hearing an unidentified (presumably insect) sound this year (2011). A short loud tap/click sound, from bushes/long grass. Maybe 10 seconds or so in between. Any ideas anyone?

DavidHowdon's picture

Orhoptera sounds

The recent New Naturalist book on Crasshoppers & Crickets has a DVD featuring the calls for the British orthoptera. That might help you identify if it is one of these. The book is worth having in its own right too.

David Howdon

jonmortin's picture

The sound Moo describes

The sound Moo describes sounds like a Dark Bush Cricket which sounds like a match being struck.