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60-Second Science

Tuning In to the Insect Philharmonic

Allison Beall of the Marshlands Conservancy in Rye, N.Y., led a twilight walk on September 5th to tune in to the insect sounds of the evening. Become more aware of the nocturnal symphony and, in the New York metropolitan area, help scientists count the insects during the "Cricket Crawl" on September 11th. Steve Mirsky reports

[The following is an exact transcript of this podcast.]

“Can you hear the end of the daytime insect? That’s the cicada. But I’m hearing crickets in the background, too. And just listen for a second, listen to how many different sounds you can hear.” That’s Allison Beall of the Marshlands Conservancy, a wildlife sanctuary in Rye, New York. She led a twilight walk through the preserve on September 5th.

“There’s a wonderful event that’s about to take place, on September 11th. There’s going to be a 'Cricket Crawl,' where people are going to go out and listen for the sounds of seven crickets and katydids, angle-winged katydids, and coneheads and various other night insects that are singing. And you can go to a Web site, and you can go out into your own backyard and listen for the sounds and actually be part of this scientific count. So all of the sounds are on the Internet, you can listen, you can see the insect close-up, and you can hear the sounds, and then you can send in the data from your own backyard.”

The Web site is www.discoverlife.org/cricket or just google “Cricket Crawl.” The official count is taking place in the New York City metropolitan area, but anyone can get a new appreciation for the tiny wildlife producing nature’s nocturne.

“Okay, so we are just about at the end of this walk, and I want to tell you something. It has not anything to do with this walk, this is called a crepuscular walk. It was just a trick, it was a trick to get you to go outside in your own habitat and to listen for the same things that have been in your backyard or in your neighborhood all along and you just haven’t paid any attention to them. So here’s what I recommend. You go out and you get a flashlight, and at eight o’clock go out and follow the sounds that you’ve heard here tonight. Do you realize how many different species of crickets and katydids and grasshoppers there are? And your job is to find them.”

—Steve Mirsky

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