Just as winter turning to spring brings sap flowing through maple trees, this liminal season of summer turning to fall, close to the autumn equinox, has its own special offering: the clicks, chirps, whirs and buzzings of an orchestra of nighttime insects. Stand outside in your yard, in a park, or somewhere with grass and trees soon after it gets dark. You will hear a plethora of pitches, rhythms, back-and-forths, and multi-sized notes, tones, and patterned tunes. Field crickets, tree crickets, katydids, and other variations of the order Orthoptera are making their last-gasp attempts to mate before the cold sets in. Sounding like a slew of noisy percussionists, it's hard to miss them. This conglomerate of evening sounds can create a disorienting field of tones and patterns, and picking out individual chirps can sometimes be challenging. I've heard low, constant thrums, high, intermittent scree-screeching, clicks, like wooden mallets, that build and then subside, and on top of this base, the melodic to and fro of katydids singing that katydid, katydidn't, katydid, katydidn't. You can increase the aural hallucinatory effect these insect noises can generate by slowly turning, ears wide open, a full 360 degrees. Besides changing the pitches and tones you hear by moving horizontally, notice the different sounds that happen vertically - buzzing from the grass at your feet, sounds emitting from ear level, and then different noises coming from above.
Grab the kids tonight and head outside for some wonderful night noises made by nature!
Ed Bieber is the Owner/Director of The Nature Place Day Camp. He has a B.A. degree from Rutgers University in Botany, M.S. from Michigan State University in Outdoor Education and New York State Permanent Teaching Certification, N-6. Ed has worked professionally, since 1970, with over 250,000 children (and still counting!), adults and families in the outdoors.