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Crickets Are Not Optional – DC/Baltimore Cricket Crawl

One of the sweetest sounds of summer is the nighttime chirping and singing of crickets and katydids. (Well, unless you’re out camping in the woods … Then the constant “din” may not be as pleasurable to you because it’s keeping you awake!) But the songs could gently fall away from one year to another and we may hardly notice. As ubiquitous as that summer sound is, there is little information on how widespread the cricket population is and whether it’s increasing or decreasing.

Enter the “Cricket Crawl” – a sound census of the singing insects of the night: crickets and katydids.

Last week-end, people across the D.C. and Baltimore areas learned the sounds of 8 crickets and katydids by listening to downloaded audio snippets. Then, participated in organized events, or on their own, listening for one minute to determine if they hear that species in their vicinity. Then, sent in their data to report on which species they heard.

Several parks and nature organizations held organized “cricket crawl” listening events, but you can easily do this on your own. It’s a fun way to distinguish individual sounds amongst the chorus and  identify what’s making all this noise on these summer evening right outside your door. (Or, what’s chirping underneath your refrigerator!)

The sounds of the crickets and katydids of interest this year can be listened to and downloaded at Discover Life, the website of one of the project organizers. You can also see the distribution of where people heard the 8 different species here. Other groups that helped organize and promote the project in our area this year are the Natural History Society of Maryland and the Audobon Naturalist Society. A Facebook page has also been organized.

If you’d like to identify more than than just the 8 sounds featured in this year’s Cricket Crawl, Wil Herschberger’s “Music of Nature” website has sounds of 20 singing insects.

Two of the most common singing insects are featured in this year’s Cricket Crawl: the northern fall field cricket and the common true katydid. (Photos courtesy of Wil Herschberger and Lang Elliott)


2 Comments Post a comment
  1. When taking the time and really listen to the crickets and katydids, it’s cool hearing them answering each other. But after the heavy rains last week where I work in Delaware, a couple crickets ‘found’ have their way into my office building. One was so loud, he was about to drive me crazy on Friday! I never saw him but he sounded HUGE, LOL. I’m hoping he found his way back outside when I return on Tuesday.

    September 3, 2012
  2. I was able to attend a presentation by Wil Hershberger, who co-authored “The Songs of Insects” and he brought a laugh from the audience when he talked about our most common experience with crickets are with the ones that get into our house (or office)!

    September 3, 2012

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