Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Hot Sounds: Singing Bugs of Summer

There’s a great deal of chirping and creaking to be heard when I step outside my door these days. Buzzing and whining calls resound from treetops.

 Welcome to the hot sounds of the singing bugs of summer.

Crickets, katydids and cicadas perform in this warm weather chorus, and while I can’t identify which insect owns each sound, there definitely are numerous players in this symphony.

Because they are cold blooded, these insects need hot days to warm up their instruments. You don’t hear them on a cool morning. Around here at least, they begin tuning up around 8 a.m., and by midday and afternoon, more  join the chorus for their star performance. The sounds continue well after sunset, albeit growing softer as the shadows lengthen. By 10 p.m. there’s only one distinguishable insect to be heard: the sound we have always referred to as July bugs, but I’m sure that is not the proper terminology.

Shooting and preparing video with sound is something new I'm experimenting with. I hope this works! Below are three videos I made of the bug sounds.

The first was made in the early morning.

The one below also was made in early morning, and wanted to include for the sound of the Hoot Owl in the distance. The dogs barking are not mine.

The last video was shot in the late afternoon as the sun is beginning to go down.

Last summer, we had a brief period of invasion by Periodical Cicadas, and those sounds were not pleasant. It was so loud as to make you cover your ears! These insects are found only in the eastern portion of North America.

It was amazing! You walked outdoors and the air was populated with numerous large, black-bodied, red-eyed insects. Peaceful wooded areas were transformed literally overnight into amazing scenes of noisy insect activity. Lower portions of tree trunks, and stems, twigs, and leaves of understory plants were covered.

There were numerous newspaper and television stories about the occurrence, because people were thinking it was a locust invasion. The Periodical Cicadas are a different insect, and unlike the locus, do not eat vegetation, are not toxic or poisonous and do not bite. The eggs are buried in the ground and emerge at the proper time. We’re told these cicadas have 13- or 17-year synchronized life cycles and such an invasion won’t occur again until 2024.
(We’re also told the bugs hadn’t hatched since 1998 so the males are calling all females. The  (Wouldn’t you just know it? The males making all the noise!

Periodical Cicada

But this year we are back to just the normal sounds of hot weather insects. Enjoy while you can. The silence of winter will be upon the land soon enough.


  1. They sounded like a host of wasps approaching...enjoyed the photos,not sure if I like the size of the Cicada though.Ida

  2. Those red eyes on the Cicada are bazaar, aren't they?

  3. Love these sounds too. Each summer around the first of July you can just bet they will start their sounds. I like it so much, believe I hear the first note of the year!


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