Katydids are seldom seen, because they camouflage so well with greenery.
My 15 minutes (well, closer to five minutes) of fame came in 2008 when I was contacted by Ontario Today to identify a loud “bug” that was causing an uproar in a suburb of Ottawa. It was a common true katydid, a cricket and grasshopper relative that reaches the northern extent of its range in southern Ontario. Only occasionally is it heard north of the Carolinian zone along the Lake Erie shoreline.
To my great surprise, this southern creature also appeared in my neighbourhood last summer and sang incessantly from mid-August to mid-October. The single male, calling after sunset as common true katydids do, became infamous on my street. Neighbours complained about the noisy “tree frog” that just wouldn’t shut up.
Residents to the south would smile at this, for their late summer nights throb with the voices of thousands of common true katydids. I’ve heard this chorus on Pelee Island – so loud my B&B window needed to be firmly shut after dark. And this summer I heard the katydid cacophony again when I traveled to Clarksville,Tennessee for the solar eclipse.
I was fascinated by the eclipse itself, but also how the katydids responded to it. They called en masse precisely when totality occurred. It was like throwing a switch. And when the sun re-emerged two minutes later from behind the moon? The katydids promptly shut up.
Though the amazingly loud common true katydids aren’t usually found in the Headwaters, several quieter species are. They are seldom seen, however, because they camouflage so well with greenery. Some even mimic leaves, right down to the pattern of the leaf veins.
One gorgeous species – the black-legged meadow katydid – sings its buzzy call during the day at this time of year around wetland margins.
I miss last summer’s katydid. Though my neighbours would demur, its regular evening nocturne was a pleasure to listen to.
Have you heard them?
Check out this resource: http://songsofinsects.com/katydids/common-true-katydid