By Wendy Langhans
Sometimes I go in search of stories and sometimes they go in search of me. Sometimes…they even pay a visit to my back porch.
While I was watering the plants on our back porch, just before sunset, I spotted a small green leaf on the railing. Being in a mood to tidy-up, I walked over to it. That’s when I got a surprise. It wasn’t a stray leaf – it was a Katydid, most likely a Broadwinged Katydid, Microcentrum rhombifolium (also known as Greater Angle-wing Katydid). And she was waiting for the evening serenade to begin.
Broadwinged Katydids, like all Katydids, are known for their night music. Beginning at dusk on warm summer evenings, the males emit a series of short lisping or ticking sounds by rubbing one of their forewings across the other. For a video of how this works, go here.
And like any young man strumming his acoustic guitar, katydids can modulate the volume: “they slightly raise their forewings, forming a small cavity in which the sound resonates and increases in volume.”
So what’s the result of all this music? An interested Broadwinged female will respond with a soft, intermittant “tick”. Or, in the unromantic words of one entomologist, “Sounds of such females are produced in response to pair-forming signals of conspecific males and serve to attract males.”
But don’t expect my visitor to go whispering any sweet little ‘nothings in her ear. If you take a close-up look at my visiting Katydid, you’ll notice two things:
(1) There are no visible ears. That’s because male Katydids hear through flat, oval-shaped “tympana”, which are located on the tibia of their front leg.
(2) She’s a female. Compare the close-up of my visitor with this photo of a male Katydid and notice the slit-like structure in his folded wings. This slit is part of the male’s sound producing mechanism.
And for one last look at how a Katydid uses those long legs to move around, check out this video.
Upcoming Outdoor Events:
Saturday, September 18, 8:00-10:00 AM. Morning Bird Hike at Towsley Canyon. Bring water and your binoculars and wear closed-toed shoes. Meet at the park entrance. 2 hours. For a map, click here.
Tuesday, September 21, 7:00–9:00 PM. Public Comment for the National Park Service’s “Rim of the Valley Corridor Study”. “The purpose of this special resource study is to determine whether any portion of the Rim of the Valley Corridor study area (the mountains encircling the San Fernando, La Crescenta, Santa Clarita, Simi and Conejo Valleys of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties) is eligible to be designated as a unit of the national park system or added to an existing national park unit.” For more information, go here. Meeting to be held at the George A. Caravalho Sports Complex Activities Center Building, 20880 Centre Point Parkway, Santa Clarita.
Thursday, September 23, 7:00-9:00 PM. Full Moon Adventure in Towsley Canyon. The canyon is a whole ‘nother world at night. Bring water and wear closed-toed shoes. Meet at the park entrance. 2 hours. For a map, click here.
Trail Maintenance Schedule. Come join our volunteers as they help maintain our trails. Contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org for time and place.
Wednesday mornings, September 1, 8, 15, 22, & 29.
Saturday mornings, September 11 & 25.
You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on “The Hike Report”, brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.