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This Week’s Creature Feature ... Counting Clicks and Chirps

Lend an ear for the D.C Baltimore Cricket Crawl

It’s a symphony out there. The players are crickets and their cuter green cousins, katydids.
    Their instruments are their wings, specifically the tooth-covered stridulatory organ thereof, rubbed one against the other. Males play this instrument to attract females and repel other males.
    Katydids, plant eaters, come in 6,400 species worldwide. Crickets, omnivores, are far fewer in species, with 900.
    How many are playing near you we don’t know.
    That’s why three nature organizations — the Natural History Society of Maryland, Audubon Naturalist Society and Discover Life — want you to count them in the Washington, D.C. Baltimore Cricket Crawl.
    Each of eight species, three of crickets and five of katydids, sings a different song at temperature-dependent rates.
    Download pictures of each and its song on your phone, and you can carry them with you to help memorize them.
    Complicating the ear work are the many other insects also singing and playing that you’ll have to set aside.
    It’s a tough job, but it’s also a short one: One minute of one night.
    Thursday, August 24 is the night, with a rain (or cold) date of August 25. (Check the website for the go or no.)
    After 8:15pm, when it’s nice and dark, you go to work. Listen up, cause you’ve got only a minute to hear it all.
    Then, record each species you hear.
    Finally, call, text, email or tweet your results to Washington, D.C.-Baltimore Cricket Crawl.
    Find complete recording and transmission info at http://pick14.pick.uga.edu/cricket/DC.