Back to the Drawing Board

by Carl Strang

In a recent post I featured fork-tailed bush katydids.

I mentioned that the notes of their song are very similar to those of a secondary song produced by the greater angle-winged katydid.

Greater angle-wings are common in woods and neighborhoods across the eastern and southwestern U.S. Their typical, very distinctive song is a series of rapid, regular ticks, perhaps 4-8/second and lasting a few seconds. Sometimes, though, they produce loud, single “zik” calls that are very similar to those of the fork-tailed. I mentioned that in the New York Cricket Crawl the instructions say that the greater angle-wing produces this note no more than once every minute, while the fork-tailed emits it several times per minute. I was not comfortable with this distinction, and in fact it is contradicted by another reference, Elliott and Hershberger’s Songs of Insects. They say that this note can be produced every few seconds by either species, but in the fork-tailed it is limited to series of 1 to 3 at a time.

Over the past few nights I have heard a pattern produced by three different greater angle-wings in two widely separated locations that better fits the Elliott-Hershberger description. The pattern consisted of the loud raspy notes at 2-3-second intervals over a period of 30 seconds to 2 minutes, a brief pause, the ticking sequence, pause, and then a resumption of the loud raspy notes. In each case the sounds all were coming from the same point high in a tree.

I can no longer go with the Cricket Crawl description, which may in fact be valid for that local area. For now I will stick with the Elliott-Hershberger suggestion, and hope that at some point I can learn to distinguish the sound quality of the notes produced by these two species.

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1 Comment

  1. Austin said,

    September 2, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    on a related note re true katydids. As ive said in the past there are very local populations of these in our area, the nearest substantial colony around 1/3 mile away. Tonight (2nd sept) i hear a male calling in a tree directly opposite our house, over the last few years ive heard the occasional solitary male calling from individual trees about 300-400 yards away. I wonder if these individuals have honestly wandered across gardens and treeless patches once fallen? i have an alternative hypothesis..accidental bird rides!! i suspect its quite possible for a small nymph to hitch a ride on a bird.


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