The Soundscape of Summer – Singing Insects

The soundscape of Oregon Ridge is bright with the music of singing insects. Evening particularly at this time of year gives you the chorus of crickets and katydids. These are the males of the species, calling to attract females in order to mate.

These insects don’t actually “sing” – their music is created by their wings, through an action called stridulation. The base of one front wing has a sharp edge, like a scraper and it is rubbed across a bumpy ridge, or “file” at the base of the other front wing.

But the songs could gently fall away from one year to another and we may hardly notice. As ubiquitous as that summer sound is, there is little information on how widespread the cricket population is and whether it’s increasing or decreasing. And rarely do we stop to distinguish one sound from another, instead listening to the entire symphony.

Enter the “Cricket Crawl” – a recent local project to guide people in identifying the sounds of 8 local species of crickets and katydids, and then to report on hearing them in their local area. It’s a fun and easy way to start to distinguish and appreciate the different sounds of these insects. The resources are available online for everyone to use.

You can listen to and download the snippets of individual sounds of 8 selected  species to your phone or computer. Then take a minute and listen on your own — either at Oregon Ridge or even in your backyard. Do you hear that sound? Try the next one. It’s a fun way to distinguish specific sounds from the chorus of music at the park.

Cricket & katydid audio clips, along with the insect pictures, can be found here on the Washington D.C. / Baltimore Cricket Crawl website.

We invite you to post what sounds you identified at Oregon Ridge!

Two of the most common singing insects are featured in this year’s Cricket Crawl: the the common true katydid and the northern fall field cricket. (Photos courtesy of Wil Herschberger and Lang Elliott)


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