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Katydid Sound, An Easy Guide

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Summer is nearing its end, it is time for the katydid sound. In August and September, the large katydids have all reached maturity. The males let out their rattling, snapping song from large herbs and small bushes. For me, the sound of late summer.

It is an imposing sight, the large katydid. Without wings, its length is already more than 3 cm, and its wings are almost twice its body length. The species is an omnivore, which as an adult likes to eat other insects. Its jaws are very strong and a bite can be painful.

You may also want to read about the beautiful monarch butterfly migration.

How do they make their sound?

Katydids make sounds by rubbing their forewings together, called stridulation, it is a distinct katydid sound. The males do this to attract females. These run toward the sound and the females can be found on leaves near males. The females themselves do not make a sound.

It is a species of ruffled feathers. They can often be found in sturdy herbs or shrubs more than half a meter high. Good places to find them are rough road verges, roughened grasslands and sunny forest edges with shrubs. They sit on leaves or branches. When approached, they hold still. If you get too close, they drop down. Somewhat careful searching is therefore recommended.

The eggs are laid in the open ground, rarely also in crevices of bark. The hatchlings emerge from the eggs in spring. They are then often found on flowers, where they eat from the pollen and petals. They are green and speckled black especially on the legs. I recognize them by the sloping curved neck shield draped like an oval behind the head. Other species are more densely black dotted or have an angularly curved neck shield.

katydid sound
This green katydid can make a harsh sound, the typical katydid sound.

Photo tips

This large species is surprisingly difficult to find. It is easiest to find the males when they are singing. However, the males only begin singing in the afternoon, when the light is harsh. The body and wings then easily glisten in the sunlight, which does not look pretty. The same happens with flash light, which bounces off the body, so to speak. In more diffuse light, such as when a cloud passes in front of the sun, it does not shine as much. In addition, the system of veins in the wing then comes out more beautifully.

The males sing into the evening and with the softer evening light it does make for nice photography. A classic image is to photograph toward the low sun with the grasshopper as a silhouette in the circle of the sun. The wings also let light through, so they stand out against the dark abdomen in backlight. Make sure to get a good photo camera to make beautiful pictures and great videos.

With a long shutter speed, the movement of making noise by the wings can be included in the photo. Windless weather is then desirable. Also, it will be experimenting with the shutter speed. By the way, the frequency of stridulation is so high that movement will always be seen. With slower shutter speeds, you include movements that cause stridulation, as in the rest of the wings.

What’s interesting is the game when the female meets the male. The male makes his typical katydid sound. The beauty is that you can then capture the interaction. They first get acquainted, although there is no courtship. Next, the male must entice the female to mate. Images of these interactions are few and far between. So make sure you get a picture of this event.