Mosquito on a blade of grassThe summer heat brings out many insects. Mosquitoes and ants can ruin outdoor fun and picnics. Termites can eat your home while you’re away on vacation. Wasps create nests on the eaves of your home. Sometimes near doorways so it’s difficult to enter or exit your home with them swarming the area.

But, what about the ones that create the summertime evening music? Who are they and what is all the buzz about? Those are the songs of katydids, cicadas, and crickets.

These insects create loud chirping noises for several different reasons. They ward off potential predators, send out distress calls, and to attract a mate all while creating the sounds of summer.

Each insect has its own way of “chirping”. Male katydids and crickets each rub their wings together and male cicadas have tymbals on their abdomen that produce their noise. The females from all 3 species do not create sounds.

Katydid outside on the groundKatydids resemble a grasshopper with a long horn. True katydids are a dead leaf brown color. This allows them to camouflage themselves against potential predators. Females have a more distinct curved ovipositor on their abdomen that lets her lay their eggs under tree bark. Some say it looks like a needle or sword. You can find these eggs on elm, oak, and cedar trees.

Katydids become fully developed by July/August, which is near the end of their life. It’s during this time that the male will rub its wings together in a mating call song that attracts the female. Once fertilized, the female will lay only 1 batch of up to 20 eggs. This is all she will lay in her lifetime.

The eggs will spend the winter between a tree and its bark to hatch in late March. Nymph katydids, that resemble the adults only with no wings, will continue to mature until mid-summer at which time they begin the process all over again with a new generation.

Cricket insect in a yardCricket chirps are an all too familiar sound in the summertime. They use what is called “stridulation” to attract a female mate. Stridulation is the act of rubbing their front wings together. Yes, crickets have wings. At the base of one wing it has a sharp edged scraper that rubs along a ridge of the other wing. Similar to the way a violin is played. This method is how male crickets sing to the females.

Once the male and female have mated the female will begin laying eggs. She can lay up to 100 eggs daily resulting in thousands of eggs during her lifespan. On average, crickets have a 3 month lifespan. Eggs generally hatch within 2 weeks and the nymphs will begin maturing and developing their wings over several molts before reaching adulthood.

Female crickets prefer to lay her eggs outside on plants and their stems. This allows the hatchlings to begin eating on the plant before moving onto grass, flowers, fruit, and seeds. Some nymph crickets are lucky enough to find other insect larvae to feed on.

Crickets prefer cooler temperatures. This is why they are seen in abundance towards the end of summer and into the fall months and during the evening/night time hours. You may encounter them infesting your porch areas at night where there’s plenty of light from the porch light. This is because crickets are attracted to light. To reduce the amount of insects around porch lights, it is suggested to change the color of the bulb from white to yellow.

Cicada on a treeCicadas create their mating calls quite a bit differently than the katydids and crickets. Cicadas use what’s called tymbals. Tymbals are quick vibrating membranes that are pulled by small muscles. This rapid motion creates the song of cicadas.

Cicadas are 1-1.5” long with a brown or green body that possesses black markings. They have 2 sets of wings, one set folds over their body like a canopy or tent while the other set is longer than their body.

The male cicadas cry out in song for a month or longer for a female mate in late spring/early summer after they have matured. His cries for a mate will get louder as time goes on until he has found a mate.

Once mated, the male dies while the female lays her eggs in trees before dying herself. Female cicadas can lay over 450 eggs that take 45-60 days to hatch. As the eggs hatch, the nymphs will drop from the trees to the ground and bury themselves within the soil away from predators to fully mature.

Nymph cicadas will suck the fluids from the roots of plants, trees, and grass while they are underground molting into adulthood. The length of the maturing process depends on the type of cicada. There are annual and periodical cicadas. Adult annual cicadas emerge every year to mate after spending 2 years beneath the ground. Periodical cicadas spend more time underground feeding and slowly maturing. So slow that it takes 13-17 years for them to mature.

Cicadas are a great food source to other insects and mammals. Birds, armadillos, ants, spiders, and wasps to name a few. Larger animals, like armadillos and opossums, may try digging in the yard to find them burrowed in the soil.

If you prefer it quiet in the evening time without all the buzz of insects or are afraid of animals digging your yard up looking for insects, give Safe Earth Pest Control a buzz. We have trained technicians buzzing around town ready to take care of all your lawn and pest control needs. 214-321-2847