Contact Microphone for Treehoppers

I’m reading “The Immense World” by Ed Yong, which contains a fascinating section on the sounds that treehoppers make using surface vibration. Crazy sounds, like cows mooing (yes, that deep), “hooting monkey with mechanical clicks,” “often deep and melodic.”

Does anyone have a setup for listening to these sounds? The book just mentions “a cheap speaker and a digital recorder connected to a clip-on microphone that a guitarist might use.”

What would be ideal would be something I could connect to my Android phone, and listen to/record with BirdNet or Merlin. I guess I should get a clip-on microphone and just try it, but I’m hoping someone here has already worked out the details.


Thanks for asking this. I was wondering the same thing.

I found this online. It’s similar to one I use for one of my guitar tuners. Most of these mics seem to use 1/4" jacks so the first thing to look for is a jack compatible with your recording device.

I’m going to guess this whole process is more difficult than described. Clipping mics to plants close to the hopper and having it sing sounds like frustration. Oh look, it hopped away. Is the mic working? Is it singing? Damn mosquitoes.

Good luck

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There’s an archive of treehopper calls here, for those who are curious


Another useful sound site to bookmark is (different kind of hoppers)

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I hadn’t thought about why I’d not heard a treehopper make a noise yet.
So … treehoppers make sounds that aren’t audible to us, but they talk to each other with vibrations to transfer sound along a plant. Cicada’s, on the other hand, are painfully loud in the summer. This is very interesting.

Haha! Yeah, I get the feeling this is more of a lab setup thing. Otherwise… field of dreams, right?

I’ve seen it done in a lab with bat evading orthoptera. Many hours to get the recordings. I’ve also heard of using a laser microphone but none of it is as easy as it sounds.

It’s cool stuff but be prepared for a steep learning curve. If you get good, you’ll probably find sounds never before documented. Some of those may distinguish new species like what happened when cricket, katydid, and firefly communications were first recorded.

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