The symphony of night insects — crickets and katydids — is background music to our summer evenings. We may notice the chorus when it first begins to grow in volume in July. But by now, the chorus is barely noticed, unless one takes time to pause and listen.
Typically, we don’t detect individual insects. We may hear the chirp of a fall field cricket when we’re near one. (And they’re especially easy to discern when one has sheltered in our house!) And the “tch tch tch” of the common katydid can be identified. But like the instruments of a orchestra, the individual insect sounds at night create a harmonized song.
But what if the sounds went away? How long would it take before anyone noticed? Until recently, there was no monitoring of cricket and katydid populations.
Two years ago, a citizen science project effort began and a “sound census” was organized. It’s an easy and fun activity. You can try it at Oregon Ridge one evening before leaving the park. Or you can try it at home.
The Cricket Crawl organization selected eight species of crickets and katydids to track. You can listen (and download) their songs at their website.
What to do:
- Go to an outdoor spot at dark
- Listen to one of the recorded sounds
- Be quiet and listen in your environment for a minute
- Do you hear that particular insect?
- Repeat for the next recorded sound
- Go through all eight
Then you can move to another location and go through the sounds again. Most people find by the third round, they can identify a few individual species without be prompted by the recorded sounds.
Taking a few minutes to listen for and appreciate the individual songs of crickets and katydids is a fun way to explore the natural world at dark.
Common true katydid:
Photos courtesy of songsofinsects.com