Katydids and Crickets - Noise: The Pulse of the Planet daily radio program offers free legal online mp3 downloads, exploring the world of sound in nature, culture and science, with audio adventures, world music, extraordinary sound portraits, science diaries, and nature ring-tones; an amazing sonic experience.

Airdate: Sep 11, 2006
Scientist: Thomas Walker

Katydids and Crickets - Noise

Katydids and Crickets - Noise
There's more to a cricket chirp than you might realize! We take a closer listen.

Katydids and Crickets - Noise

Music; Ambience: Katydid and cricket songs

JM: Just like violin players drawing bows across strings, insect virtuosos produce their own kinds of songs with their wings. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

TW: "Crickets and katydids both make their songs by rubbing together specialized structures, which are the base of the front wings."

JM: Tom Walker is an entomologist at the University of Florida.

TW: "One wing has a file which has downward projecting teeth, and the other wing has a scraper which mates with the file of the other wing and which in essence bumps along the teeth of the file when the wings are open and closed. I have some songs to illustrate this. Let's go to a chirping cricket song, and I'll play it at full speed first. And this one has a slow enough pulse rate during the chirp that you probably can hear the individual pulse as you listen closely at full speed. So here we go, and they're rubbing their wings about 17 times a second here during the chirp. And then they pause and chirp again. (Plays song) So now here's the same song played at one fourth speed and you'll be able to hear that each chirp consists of three or four wing rubs, or pulses. (Plays song) Now let's go to the more complicated ones, which are the katydids, and we'll do the true katydid, which has a slow frequency song which is easy to hear. And we'll play it first at full speed, and you'll be able to hear the wing strokes there if you're listening at all closely. (Plays song) Now here it is at slow speed and you'll be able to hear it very clearly. And you'll also be able to hear the raspy nature of the sound."

JM: We'll learn more about the music of crickets and katydids in future programs. Please visit our website and check out our new blog at pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.