Friday, September 11, 2009

The answer to my burning question and a final tutorial

[Yes, today's event was postponed because of rain. It will take place tomorrow. To sign up, check out this link:

The story up to now:
On September 3 in these pages I first wrote about the city-wide census of crickets and katydids called Cricket Crawl, to take place on Sept 9. You read about the stated mission of the Cricket Crawl: to discover whether one particular species of katydid, the Common True Katydid, was still present within the limits of New York City, or whether [as some claimed] it had been wiped out in this area long ago.

Well, I was struck in a heap by the idea that there are no Common True Katydids in NYC, since I hear a bunch of them singing every August and September right ouside my window on Riverside Drive. Now I began to have doubts: maybe the critters I've always thought were CTK's are some other species! The people in charge of the Cricket Crawl suggested [in an extremely kindly way] that the insects I've been hearing are a different species called Lesser Anglewing Katydids. I was determined to find an answer to this burning question.

A few days ago Margot Adler of NPR, who is doing a program about the Cricket Crawl, met me at a certain bench in Riverside Drive with her recording equipment in hand. At a little after 8:30 pm she held a large microphone up towards the branches of a large Pin Oak where a bunch of sex-crazed Katydids were loudly proclaiming "Kate-ee-DID! Kate-ee-DID! She DID! Dih dih DID!" [The insect sings to attract a mate.]

The journalist recorded the sounds for a while. The next day she sent her recording to Louis Sorkin, an entomologist at the American Museum of Natural History.

And yesterday he called me with the exciting answer to my question: YES! They were True Katydids. Bingo!!

You might strike gold too. Learn the 7 songs -- or learn a few of them at least -- and sign up for the Cricket Crawl. Here's your last chance to learn the 7 cricket and katydid songs.


Northern Fall Field Cricket
20 s of calling song [1.77MB]; male from Dyer County, TN; 24.4°C. (WTL489-28)

Jumping Bush Cricket

14 s of calling song [1.22MB]; male from Lake Co., Tenn.; 25.0°C. (WTL686-26a)


Common True Katydid [the jackpot]
20 s of northern calling song [1.74MB]; male from Etowah Co., Ala.; 22.0°C. (WTL141-24)

Greater Anglewing Katydid
20 s of lisping song [1.73MB]; male from Taylor Co., Fla.; 26.0°C. (WTL031-3)\
Oblong-winged Katydid
15 s of calling song [1.30MB]; male from Berkeley Co., Mo.; 25.0°C. (WTL007-1d)

Lesser Anglewing Katydid
8 s of calling song [694KB]; male from Alachua Co., Fla.; 24.0°C. (WTL032-5)

Fork-tailed Katydid
8 s of lisps [687KB]; male from Escambia Co., Fla.; 24.8°C. (WTL063-8a)