On Saturday Matt and I went out to hike, watch the sunset, and see if the sky would clear up so we could catch the Perseid meteor shower (it didn't). We've been trying this summer to learn some insects by their sounds, and just hanging out at sunset with nothing in particular going on was a fantastic chance to practice.
The most striking thing, now that I recognize more of the sounds, is what a changing of the guard there is as it gets dark.
At dusk, the cicadas are noisy. They sing in big masses, in a pulsing drone.
And then, as it gets dark, the katydids start making themselves known. Singly at first, then choruses of the Common True Katydid.
These are the five species we've been trying to learn, thanks to the DC/Baltimore Cricket Crawl organized for Friday, August 24. There are more species out there, but five seems like a good set to start with:
|Common True Katydid |
Constantly repeating TCH-TCH-TCH (like ka-ty-did), from the tops of trees. One of the lowest pitched songs.
|Lesser Anglewing |
A faster, higher-pictched TCH-TCH-TCH, with long pauses in between each set.
|Greater Anglewing |
High pitched clicks that rapidly speed up, coming from the tops of trees
|Oblong-winged Katydid |
ZEE-TIC every few seconds. From shrubs, usually in wooded areas.
|Fork-tailed Bush Katydid |
A single high-pitched TCHIP, well-spaced-out. Usually given from short trees.
Only once now since we really started listening, we've been able to follow a single chirper, shine a flashlight, and find the katydid to confirm our ID. Many just hang out in the treetops -- we'll just have to listen. How many can you hear where you live?
Hooked? Check out Lang Elliot's wonderful book/CD set, The Songs of Insects.