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Amateurs report "common true katydid" throughout NYC, despite none documented in 100 years

The common true katydid is one of the more stylish orthopterans, the group of insects that includes grasshoppers, crickets and locusts, appreciated in part for its chatty evening call from which its common name is taken.

You've probably heard it shushing, "katydid, katydid, katydid," without realizing it, anywhere east of the Mississippi River and south of the Great Lakes, and in some parts just west of the Mississippi.

A small group of walkers on a naturalist-led tour heard them regularly at the Marshlands Conservancy in Westchester County, N.Y., last Saturday, September 5. No press releases were issued.

However, none of the green, winged bugs had been documented in New York City for the past 100 years, according to organizers of Cricket Crawl NYC, an amateur-science event held Saturday night to enlist area residents a la crowd-sourcing to collectively document the distribution of seven orthopteran species throughout the metropolitan area.

Turns out, common true katydids were hiding in plain sight. It took an expedition paddling on the Gowanus Canal mere minutes in the field to report hearing the songs of common true katydids in Brooklyn, said Ken Kostel, Cricket Crawl NYC's official blogger. Others common trues were reported by groups in Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx. In total, more than 100 reports on the seven fairly easy-to-identify species came in from various expeditions, which were being processed well into the early morning hours of Sunday by Sam Droege of the U.S. Geological Survey, as well as Elizabeth Johnson and Louis Sorkin of the American Museum of Natural History.

The Bronx River Expedition, a team of eight including Bronx River Alliance's Anne-Marie Runfola, Stephen Paul DeVillo and Raissa A.G.A. Dally, headed into the Bronx River Forest at 7:35 P.M. after walking under the Bronx River Parkway.

"OK, Bronx River Expedition. I think it's dark enough. Let's go into the forest!" Runfola said, rallying folks after they spent nearly an hour quizzing themselves by listening to mp3 recordings of the seven species' calls.

The team reported hearing five species, including the fork-tailed katydid's strange single loud tick, but no common true katydids. Some other living things delighted the team along the way—jewelweed seed pods ready for popping, a tree cricket causing a racket while clinging to a ball-field fence, an Eastern cottontail rabbit and wild cucumber.

The team emerged from the forest two hours later with Runfola concluding, "No common true katydid, but we got the four other species [later the team agreed it had identified five]. We know katydids and crickets are alive and well in the Bronx Forest."

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