Listen to the music of the night…

Over at Lisa’s blog: “Hey Sparky, What Time Is It?”  the birds and bees are singing their hearts out! (got ya curious :P? Meant to say *bugs* – birds and *bugs* :)). But there’s one question that went left unanswered for me, so I’ve decided to give it my best shot here on my blog. 

The question…What exactly is making that noise up in the trees late at night and into the wee morning hours here in our area? I can tell you what it’s not….it’s not the Cicada bug. Those bugs live underground for 17 years and then they come out, live for approximately 1 – 2 weeks and die. However, during the time that they are out, they fly everywhere and are everywhere, making such a loud noise (day and night) that it’s deafening! It’s totally a myth that if the cicada falls from the tree that it dies! They have just lived in the ground for 17 years, so I don’t think not being on a tree will kill them :). Let alone the fact that when they come out of the ground (after 17 years, not only are the trees alive with these bugs, but the ground is literally moving with them.

How do I know this? Because when we lived in Virginia (2003) we experienced it first hand! You could not even walk on the grass without stepping on one of these bugs! They were absolutely EVERYWHERE…on the ground, in the trees, on your car, in your hair! I’m just not even joking. They said that there were literally millions of these bugs per square mile. The noise they make is not this rather pleasant chirping like a cricket, but rather more like a constant buzz saw sound that didn’t let up at all, with no breaks day or night. The fact that that sound is multiplied millions of times within hearing distance makes it unbearably deafening!

I do have pictures and videos of these red-eyed, rather friendly bugs…but at the moment can’f find them. So, you’ll have to settle for internet pictures until I find them.


 Never once did I see only one Cicada like this. If you saw one you saw 20 and all piled on top of each other. Literally, people would cover their smaller trees with netting in preparation for the invasion of the cicadas because they could destroy a small tree in one or two days!

before molting


But hey….this is not the culprit of all of our noise….at least, I don’t believe it is. The really convincing reason that I don’t think the cicada is the culprit is that they “sing” all day long and all night long!! There is no end to their noise until they die! Here are a couple of articles for your reading pleasure: Cicadas (Nati0nal Geographic)  and Cicadas (Wikipedia)

So, we move on to the other potential cause for the music of the night is….(*drum roll please*) … the Katydid! I actually have seen a few of these creatures about. They do, however, mostly stay in the tree tops as they love to eat deciduous tree leaves!

They actually look like grasshoppers on steroids :). But, on closer inspection here is  distinct difference. Their wings actually look like leaves, so they can really hide well in the tree tops! The thing that they can’t hide is the cricket-like noise that they make in the night.

Here is the sound that Katydids make:  the songs of hundreds if not thousands of katydids overlap to produce a constant pulsating whine   . Although this is the sound that I’m hearing at night…right Lisa? Most of the sites I visited said that the Katydids make this sound night and day. However, I’m only noticing it at night. Hmmmm…maybe our hot weather here in Florida is scaring them into only chirping at night :P.

Here are a couple of sites that talk about the Katydid… Texas Katydid and True Katydid (scroll down about 3/4ths of the way down this page and click on “True Katydid Sound #2” and  Wikipedia .

Okay, well, maybe I did, maybe I didn’t solve the mystery of the “music of the night”…but I think we sure came close to finding the culprit of the noise! It is loud at night and the fact that it’s coming from the trees is just a little creepy! 😛

If I can get my hands on the pictures of the cicadas from Virginia, I will show you! That was the most amazing thing I’ve experienced as far as the bug world goes! So cool to have been there to witness their 17-year uprising!! 😀

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12 Responses to Listen to the music of the night…

  1. Lisa says:

    You have a new theme! I like.

    I grew up around the cicadas, which we called locusts and had an informal name of “sewing machine bug”. I loved finding their shells on trees, and my grandpa’s house had a tree that usually had at least one on it every time I visited in the summer, which was usually once a week at a minimum. None of the live cicadas I’ve seen had red eyes, though. They were always heavy on greens and browns. Creepy looking things, but that never stopped me from catching them. The sound of cicadas is what I refer to as “The Summer Sound” and it’s truly one of my favorite sounds.

    The katydid link does indeed sound like what I’m hearing at night. I rarely hear it during the day. But if I’m going to see a katydid, it will almost always be at night. I suspect they stay quiet during the day so as to not be eaten by the birds and critters following the sound beacon!

    I don’t think cicadas or katydids sound anything like crickets. Crickets chirp. The other two have more of a rattling vibration, though they are quite distinct from one another.

  2. Victoria says:

    Thanks Lisa! I figured it was time to change it up a little.

    I grew up with cicadas too….the shells that is! I never actually saw a live cicada until 2003 when we had the explosion of cicadas in Virginia. That was amazing! The Virginia brand of Cicada had bright red eyes…but it’s because those were the Periodical Cicadas (the ones that come out every 17 years). The kind you and I played with as kids were the Dog-Day Cicadas which are green & black and appear every July & August in small numbers.

    I agree with you about the sound of the katydids….they have an eerie sound especially in he night and coming from the top of the trees! I looked up at my maple trees today and the top of the leaves have been chewed up …

  3. Victoria says:

    haha…just curious as to why you called them sewing machine bugs? 🙂

  4. Lisa says:

    Because they sounded a bit like old fashioned sewing machines.

  5. Candy says:

    I experienced their 17 year phenomenon in Missouri…..out in the country, their sounds and shells, clinging to every tree bark available! I, like Vicky, only saw their shells, never the live bug. But their sounds permeating every waking and sleeping hour.

    I remember thinking…….as a child that is (with no adult explanations to clear up up the mysteries of the mind), that these little ‘ghost’ bugs were never to be seen, only heard. And that they always left their ghostly shells in proof that they WERE!

    So from the a tree climbing girl who loved solitude….often climbing trees to write my poetry that poured through me, as did in my Mom…….I stayed out of the trees during the time that the loud little ‘ghost’ bugs were loudly proclaiming their UNDENIABLE 2 week life span!

    Thank you, Lisa, for your very informative and very nostalgic walk ‘back into the archives’ of days gone by! 🙂 I feel like a kid again…….only now I understand what I didn’t understand then. 🙂

    • Victoria says:

      Candy, you’re also talking about the annual Cicadas as well … called the Dog-Day Cicadas…they come out every July & August.

      But the kind we saw in Virginia were the Periodical Cicadas (who come out every 17 years)…and you definitely see those red-eyed bugs! they are everywhere (read my post for more info).

      But I remember the cicada shells all over the trees in Missouri too! 🙂

  6. Candy says:

    Oops! I am so tired that I confused Vicky’s blog with Lisa. So sorry, Vicky! So it’s the ‘search’ queen herself that I am addressing, right? My own dear sister, who amazes me almost every time we talk? Love you sis! This was a great and fun blog! ❤ 🙂

    • Victoria says:

      haha….thanks sis! Actually Lisa started the subject because she & her hubby were walking their dog and wondering what the extreme noise in the treetops was. I had been wondering the same thing, so I wanted to find out what those bugs were in the treetops!
      Love you, you’re sweet 🙂

  7. Adrienne says:

    I love this post! I’ve never seen a katydid before! And I love the new look. Good on ya, Auntie! Love!

  8. Victoria says:

    Thanks Adrienne 🙂 Those Katydids are noisy creatures at night!!

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