Saturday, September 12, 2009

The count is on!

Common True Katydid

In yesterday's post I told about my discovery of the Common True Katydids across the street from my house. If you want to read about my moment of glory, click on the link below. It includes an opportunity to actually HEAR a recording of "my" katydids, albeit a bit faintly. Good earphones really help:

Meanwhile, tonight's the night. Last chance to sign up and participate.

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)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

New Moth for Central Park list and a PS

Polyphemus Moth just before release in Central Park

The newly-emerged moth

The cocoon

The following e-mail, and the photos above, arrived in my mail-box yesterday from Mike Freeman, a Central Park friend I hadn't seen for a long time:

Hi, Marie.

This past February [2009] I found a cocoon dangling from a tree that was 75 yards NW of the Central Park tennis courts. The cocoon was about six feet off the ground and in plain sight. I decided that the moth's chances for survival were higher with me than where it was. I built a wire mesh cage for it and left it out on my 8th floor terrace, which faces North on 100th Street between Columbus and Central Park West. Based on some brief research on the Web, I concluded that the cocoon belonged to a Polyphemus Moth. On Sunday, June 7th I discovered that the moth had emerged from its cocoon. I snapped some pictures. I let the moth cling to my five-year-old daughter Victoria's hand. And then we promptly carried the moth (in a shoe box) to the park where we released it. We let it crawl out of the box onto a tree in a secluded area between the north ballfields and the Pool. This moth was a female.

PS from Marie: I agree that by taking the cocoon home Mike increased its chances for survival. By keeping it in a cage on his terrace for the months until the moth was ready to emerge the cocoon was protected from its natural predators, birds and raccoons, for instance.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Another species for the Cricket Crawl

Fork-tailed Katydid Scudderia furcata – This katydid calls from the shrub layer, likes individual young street trees, but will call up to the tops of trees and gives a SINGLE LOUD TIC as its call. This note can be very much like that of the note that the Greater Anglewing will give (as an alternative to its usually bouncing tics), but the Greater Anglewing gives its note only very uncommonly (once every few minutes) and the Fork-tailed will give its note several times a minute
8 s of lisps [687KB]; male from Escambia Co., Fla.; 24.8°C. (WTL063-8a)
to sign up for the city-wide cricket and katydid census next Friday [9/11] click on

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Fall Field Cricket

fall field cricket
Gryllus pennsylvanicus

Here's the next very common cricket on the Cricket Crawl [ ] list. Click below to hear the song -- though I'm sure you already know it.

20 s of calling song [1.77MB]; male from Dyer County, TN; 24.4°C. (WTL489-28)
5 s of calling song [255KB]; same as above but truncated and down-sampled.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

The "False" Katydid

Here's another of the target species to be counted on next Friday's census of crickets and katydids within the city limits of NYC - the Cricket Crawl. It is the Lesser Anglewing Katydid . [Microcentrum retinerve] Though it is in a group called the False katydids, there is nothing "false" about it--that's just the way entomologists differentiate them from another group belonging to the taxon Pterophylla-- the True katydids. Go figure.

Click on the link below to hear the song of the Lesser Anglewing:

Here's the link for the Cricket Crawl, if you want to take part in this historic event: