Meadow Katydid (in the driveway)

Meadow Katydid .jpg
the antennae go on and on, out of frame

I grew up thinking there was one kind of katydid: the big green jobs that sang their name at night. But apparently, there are oodles. We found this one, a Meadow Katydid (Conocephalis nemoralis?), lounging under the passionvine in the driveway. It didn’t seem to mind being borrowed for observation. It groomed itself nonstop in the cage, flicked its crazy-long antennae like an fly-fisher casting for trout, and sort of murmured

But on top of the open cage—which must have acted like a soundbox—it BUZZED.

Remember the buzzer in the old “Operation” game? It took two “D” batteries to make that noise. This thing does it with two wings.

— • —

Cooler weather has begun. Before cicadas, katydids, grasshoppers and crickets disappear, treat yourself to a browse at the amazing site: “Songs of Insects.” You can click on each species to hear—and see a spectrograph of—a typical song/call. (Range maps let you know if they are in your area.) I’ve been learning new names for old sounds.

So far, the most shocking things I’ve learned are 1) only one katydid species actually says katydid, 2) the cicada that sounds like an electronic siren (and hurts my ears) is a Northern Dusk-Singing Cicada (Megatibicen auletes) and 3) the “distant sleigh bells” at night are courtesy of an animal I had never even heard of: Columbian trig (Cyrtoxipha columbiana).

The best part is, if you play the files while sitting on the porch or by a window, you can match a song in real time.

I can’t think of anything I’d rather do right this minute.