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Who’s Singing in Your Backyard This Summer? Cicadas and/or Katydids

6 May 2016, 12:36 pm

summer sounds
The first thing to understand about Katydids and Cicadas is that they are, in fact, different. Many people think they are the same and just called something different based on geography.

While there are quite a few factors that make these insects very different lets get straight to do the good stuff and that is their unique sounds. Differentiating their sounds can actually be quite easy if you know what you are looking for.

Katydids’ Song

The common true katydid (Pterophylla camellifolia) produces a repetitive and steady song for which katydids are named; the song is sounds like they are saying.. “katy-did, katy-didn’t.”

Have a listen

What does a Katydid look like?

While Katydids are likely to be more heard and not seen, if you happen to see one you might not even know what you’re looking at. That is because Katydids closely resemble the classic cricket. They are closely related to the cricket a few variations exists. They are green in color but sometimes their wings can have various iridescent colors that make them look very different from the cricket you typically see in the summer.

(Image: Andrzej Barabasz)
(Image: Andrzej Barabasz)

Cicadas Song

Cicadas are best known for the songs the male cicadas sing which is a steady and loud virbration pulsating through the lush and dense wilderness in mainly the eastern third of the country. They emerge in the dog days of summer and use a special organ known as Tymbals. Tymbals are membranes that vibrate very quickly when pulled by tiny muscles. This very loud vibration creates the cicada’s song that some describe as deafening.

Have a listen

What do Cicadas look like?

Cicadas are usually brown in color and are commonly mistakened for a beetle. Cicadas belong to the group of insects known as Hemiptera, suborder Auchenorrhyncha, superfamily Cicadoidea and families Cicadidae (the vast majority of cicadas) or Tettigarctidae(only two species). Their life cycle typically runs every 13-17 years but some are considered annual. They are mainly found in the eastern half of the country and are prominent close to moisture-rich climates where they can grown and mature for several years underground before emerging and gracing us with their presence and beautiful songs.

(Image: Bruce Marlin)
(Image: Bruce Marlin)

So, next time you’re enjoying a nice summer afternoon, remember to take a closer listen and see if you can tell who it is that is singing in your backyard.

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