At last weekend's Midwest Native Plant Conference, we featured a good bit about "singing insects". Why? Part of our purpose with this conference is to educate and inform about the value of native plants, and there is a distinct aural dimension to native flora.
One of the most pleasing dimensions of warm summer nights is the chorus of various insects. Possibly no more conspicuous symphony of sound exists that is so widely heard, but so poorly understood by most people. Our job was to help conference attendees better recognize the interesting little musicians that make the nighttime music.
The Friday night scene outside the front doors of the Bergamo Center. This may be the world record crowd for a singing insect walk; if you know of a larger assemblage gathered to look for nighttime insects let me know. I counted about 90 people.
Pictured above is a Slightly Musical Conehead, and that's a fair name. The most pleasing of the insect singers are probably the crickets, which hold their wings up over their back as they fiddle, producing clear melodic tones. Coneheads emit incredibly loud extended crackles that sound like electricity snappling through an uninsulated wire.
One of their lot, the Robust Conehead, is so loud that its song pierces right through rolled up car windows as motorists zip down country lanes in the evening, and if - foolishly - kept indoors as a pet, the conehead can set off alarms and rapidly drive the homeowner completely mad.
We had a great time making sense of the sounds of the night, and even finding some of the singers so that people could meet them firsthand. Many people commented that this experience opened up a whole new dimension of nature that they hadn't thought much about.
I'm sure we'll be wandering around in the dark at next year's Midwest Native Plant Conference, and I hope that you can join us.