A Symphony in the Trees: It’s Katydid Season!

When I was a child, I had a picture book about insects.  Each creepy critter was briefly described by the author, including an onomatopoeic description of the insect’s chirp or whistle or buzz.

The katydid, I learned in that book, had a distinctive call that sounded like “Katie did, Katie did, Katie did-did-did.”

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We drove up our driveway last night at around 11 p.m., and there they were!  Just one night before, the skies had been silent—and now, thousands of the green critters sang over our heads.  Where did they come from?!

It’s Katydid Season at our house—an annual phenomenon that amuses me and amazes our visitors.  The leaf-green “tree grasshoppers” begin their song at nightfall, a cacophony of staccato voices echoing through the canopy overhead.  They listen to one another.  I know this because the jumble of calls we hear at dusk gradually synchronizes until by midnight they join in a single, rowdy lullaby, a pulsing prayer so loud that it can be heard through the roof… through the attic… through our bedroom ceiling.

And then at 3:45 a.m., in unison, they fall silent—as if some giant hand had reached down and hit the snooze button on the Katydid Alarm System.  The forest is silent, no sign of the thousands of songsters who sang us to sleep the night before.

It’s such an amazing phenomenon, I thought I’d share it with you.  You can hear their calls here (our particular species sings like the first sample, from northern Etowah County, Alabama).

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By the way, I note that in Leviticus 11, there is a specific reference to katydids—assuring us that we may eat them if we like. 

Uh, thanks, God—but I think I’ll pass.


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