What’s Making that Sound?

This male black-legged meadow katydid wasn’t hard to find. All I had to do was follow the relentless chirping! These katydids are loud, chirping and buzzing away throughout the day from a perch on a blade of grass.

So, what’s the purpose of all that racket? This is the serenade the male sings to attract females to his territory to mate.

The singing sound of the males is made by them rubbing their forewings together. This is called stridulation. Males compete in “singing” contests with other males in the area. Females actually prefer to select among multiple challengers singing against one another in close proximity. This results in some very loud tufts of prairie grass that serve as the arenas for these competitions! Sometimes males can’t settle the argument by singing and resort to physical fighting, but most arguments are settled musically.

If you try to find a black-legged meadow katydid at Nature Boardwalk, you’ll find the process is made even easier because they’ll only quiet down when you’re very close, giving themselves away. Even then they’ll stand their ground!

Vicky Hunt

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