Mission Statement

Bearing Witness to Local Natural History-- from the wildness of Indiana

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Summer Symphony: Summer Nights

Driving home last night along rural roads with windows down and cool air circulating through the car, the summer symphony of insect songs serenaded me from the roadsides. Once home, I heard them singing from the trees and fields thick with vegetation. I realized how much these songs are a part of my summer nights.

They are the background music to my life as the sun sets and the night blankets the landscape. I unconsciously depend on them to keep me company. When cold nights arrive, the landscape becomes silent except for the persistent cricket. It is then that I notice their absence.

These insects are invisible companions . . . rarely seen but always heard. Last night Common True Katydids, Nebraska Coneheads, Greater Anglewings, and Lesser Anglewings graced the darkness with their lovesongs.

                                           Waning Light on Pond   ©Joni L. James

                                           Night Falls    ©Joni L. James

                                                        Greater Anglewing Katydid (??)
                                                        ©Joni L. James

                                           Note tympana on right front leg. ©Joni L. James

Singing insects produce their sounds in many ways. Many insects in the order Orthoptera (Crickets, Katydids, & Grasshoppers), produce sound via stridulation. They rub one body part against another. The base of the forewings of katydids and crickets are designed for sound production. They possess a sharp edge/scraper at the base of one front wing. It is rubbed across a uneven ridge or "file-like" structure at the base of the opposite wing. Wings are elevated and moved rapidly back and forth  during sound production. The wings produce the song through vibration.

These Orthopterans have oval-shaped eardrums/tympana on their front legs near the base of the tibia. (Note the tympana on the right front leg of the Anglewing in the bottom image). Most of the songs are for attracting mates by males.

In general grasshoppers sing during the day and usually the hottest hours. Ground and Field Crickets sing anytime. Katydids and Tree Crickets sing mostly at night (especially early hours until around midnight) -- some often do during the day.

Listen tonight for the beautiful singing of crickets, katydids, and more.
Summer evenings impart memory markers onto our lives through our senses and we all respond differently. What are the pleasurable characteristics of summer nights that create fond memories for you? What defines a summer night?

(Please take a moment to respond via the comment link below this post. I invite discussion and sharing on this blog. I look forward to hearing from you!).

Listen tonight . . .

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