Thursday, September 06, 2007

Night Bugs

If you've spent any time in your backyard this summer, you've probably noticed how loud it gets right at sunset. (Hopefully it's not because the neighbor's dogs bark all day and night.) Pennsylvania has three common insects that call from ground and tree during the evening (and at times during the day). Try to listen for these:

The Tree Cricket makes the steady trill you'll hear in the background. Sometimes these modulate their call up and down, but it usually has a steady feel like this sample.

The Field Cricket is the more common cricket, one you'll find easily if you turn over rotting logs or compost. These little guys chirp day and night, a "cheep cheep" sound that varies its rate with the outdoor temperature.

The loudest is the Katydid. These grasshopper-like bugs call to one another from the tree tops starting at about sundown. You can hear their name in their call- "Kay-Tee-Did, Kay-Tee-Did" (or sometimes "Kay-Tee-Did-Did-Did").

All of these insects make their sounds by rubbing their legs together vigorously. They don't have the ability to make sounds with their mouths, and their hearing organs are along the edge of their legs. Calls are for mating, and for your backyard hearing pleasure.

Links (with thanks for the sounds and pictures):

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