Sounds Of Summer Vibrant In Northeast Indiana
If you’ve ever spent your summer days by the pool, playing sports in the park, or just being outside, cicadas singing to each other, back and forth is a familiar sound.
Nature is always alive with the sound of its inhabitants. In the spring, it’s mostly birds and frogs, and while they stick around during the warmer months on the calendar, they become drowned out by much tinier insects.
August is typically the time of year insect sounds peak in wooded areas or even neighborhoods. ACRES Land Trust executive director Jason Kissel says this has everything to do with consistently warm weather conditions.
“Since all these insects are cold-blooded, their activity level varies with the temperature,” said Kissel. “That’s why, right now, we’re hearing insects dominate, because they’re at their prime; great hot temperatures and they love it.”
Kissel notes that cicadas, crickets and katydids dominate the background of an entire 24-hour summer day this time of year.
“You get this whole rhythm, you can almost time the day if you listen to the insects,” he said. “If you didn’t have any other senses or ability to know what time of day it was, you could know, roughly, what time of day it is through the insect choruses.”
Cicadas dominate daytime sounds. They live near the tops of trees and, according to Kissel, produce a very unique sound as they communicate with each other.
“They have this clicking sound, but also this… kind of metallic sound that ebbs and flows,” he said. “It’ll get really loud, then get soft, and then a partner will join and then get soft.”
Annual cicadas aren’t alone in providing these familiar summer sounds. An hour before sunset, cicadas will retire for the night, and another insect takes center stage.
“Right at sunset, it’s dominated by crickets,” he said. “But not ground crickets; it’s dominated by tree crickets. And in our area it’s called the snowy tree cricket.”
Kissel describes these crickets as small and green in color, and says they hang out near the tops of trees, like cicadas.
“They have two sets of wings: they have the back wings that they fly around with, but the front wings, they rub together and they make this cricket sound that we’ve all heard.”
The tree crickets start their show right before sunset and chirp all throughout the night, in what Kissel describes as the “background music” of a summer night.
Unlike cicadas, crickets aren’t alone in producing the music. Katydids also join the fun. Katydids -- like cicadas and crickets -- live in the tops of hardwood trees.
“To me, this is the quintessential summer sound, the katydids,” he said. “They call back and forth. They got their names because it sounds like, ‘katy-DID, katy-didn’t. You’ll hear this back and forth throughout the woods.”
Even though katydids join crickets for nighttime sounds, their active periods differ slightly. Crickets will get started around sunset and call it a day in the early morning, while katydids will stick around a little after sunset. Kissel says the differences in activity time throughout the day is all about preservation.
“If they were doing this during the day, they’d be competing with other insects who are active, and they’d be more vulnerable to attacks,” he said. “The bird species, for example.”
So why do these tiny insects indulge in making such loud noises? For the crickets and cicadas, it’s mating season, and according to Kissel, the louder an insect is, the better its chances of finding a mate.
“That’s why you hear them competing; that’s why there’s so much noise,” he said. “If you’re a male cicada or a male cricket, you’ve got to be pretty noisy.”
Even though these sounds are simply part of the natural world in motion, there’s something romantic and familiar about hearing cicadas during a hot summer day, or crickets and katydids on a muggy summer night. Kissel agrees.
“It’s kind of the soundtrack of our summer; it’s just nice to know who’s playing it.”