The True Katydid

We now come to tha t artist who bears by right the name of katydid," the insect (Fig. 24) known to science as Pterophylla camellifoila and to the American public as the greatest of insect singers. Whether the katydid is really a musician or not, of course, depends upon the critic, but of his fame there can be no question, for his name is a house hold term as familiar as that of any of our own great artists, notwithstand.ng that there is no phonographic record of his music. To be sure, the cicada has more of a world-w;de reputation than the katydid, for he has representatives in many lands, but he has not put his song into words the public can understand. And if simplicity be the test of true art, the song of the katydid stands the test, for nothing could De simpler than merely katy-did, or its easy variations, such as katy, katy-sht-dia, and katy-diant.

Yet though the muiic of the katydid is known by ear or by reputat'on to almost every native American, few of us

Fic. 24. The true katydid, Pterophylla camdlifolia, a male

are acquainted With the musician himself. This s because he almost invariably chooses the tops of the tallest trees for his stage and seldom descends from it. His lofty platform, moreover, is also his studio, his home, and his world, and the reporter who would have a personal i iterview must be efficient n tree climbing. Occasionally, though, it happens that a singer may be located in a smaller tree where access to him is easier or from which he may be dislodged by shaking. A specimen, secured in this way on August 12, lived till October 18 and furnished material for the following notes:

hie physical characters of the captive and some of his attitudes are shown in Figures 24 and 25. His length is mches from the forehead to the tips of the folded wings; the front legs are longer and thicker than in most other members of the family, while the h nd legs are unusually short. The antennae, though, are extremely long, slender, and very delicate filaments, 2,3/i6 "niches in length.

Fig. 25. The katydid in var.ous attitudes A, usual position of a male while sing ng B, attitude while running rapidly on a smooth surface. C, preparing to leap from a vertical surface. D, a male, seen from above, showing the stridulating area at the base of the wings. E, a female, showing the broad, flat, curved ovipos tor

Fig. 25. The katydid in var.ous attitudes A, usual position of a male while sing ng B, attitude while running rapidly on a smooth surface. C, preparing to leap from a vertical surface. D, a male, seen from above, showing the stridulating area at the base of the wings. E, a female, showing the broad, flat, curved ovipos tor

Between the bases of the antennae on the forehead there is a small conical projection, a physical character which separates the true katydid from the round-headed katydids and assigns him to the subfamily called the Pseudo-phyllinae, which includes, besides our species, many others that live mostly in the tropics. The rear margins of the wings are evenly rounded and their sides strongly bulged outward as if to cover a very plump body, but the space between them is mostly empty and probably forms a resonance chamber to give tone and volume to the sound produced by the stridulating parts. What might be the katydid's waistcoat, the part of the body exposed beneath the wings, has a row of prominent buttonlike swellings along the middle which rhythmically heave and sink with each respiratory movement. All the katydids are deep abdominal breathers.

The color of the katydid is plain green, with a conspicuous dark-brown triangle on the back covering the stridulating area of the wings. The tips of the mouth parts are yellowish. The eyes are of a pale transparent green, but each has a dark center which, like the pupil in a painting, is always fixed upon you from whatever angle you retreat.

The movements of the captive individual are slow, though in the open he can run rather rapidly, and when he is in a hurry he often takes the rather absurd attitude shown at B of Figure 25, with the head down and the wings and body elevated. He never flies, and was never seen to spread his wings, but when making short leaps the wings are slightly fluttered. In preparing for a leap, if only one of a few inches or a foot, he makes very careful preparations, scrutinizing the proposed landing place long and closely, though perhaps he sees better in the dark and acts then with more agility. If the leap is to be made from a horizontal surface, he slowly crouches with the legs drawn together, assuming an attitude more familiar in a cat; but, if the jump is to be from a vertical support, he raises himself on his long front legs as at C of Figure 25, suggesting a camel browsing on the leaves of a tree. He sparingly eats leaves of oak and maple supplied to him in his cage, but appears to prefer fresh fruit and grapes, and relishes bread soaked in water. He drinks rather less than most orthopterons.

When the katydids are singing at night in the woods they appear to be most wary of disturbance, and often the voice of a person approaching or a crackle underfoot is sufficient to quiet a singer far overhead. The male in the cage never utters a note until he has been in darkness and quiet for a considerable time. But when he seems to be assured of solitude he starts his music, a sound of tremendous volume in a room, the tones incredibly harsh and rasping at close range, lacking entirely that melody they acquire with space and distance. It is only by extreme caution that the performer may be approached while singing, and even then the brief flash of a light is usually enough to silence those stentorian notes. Yet occasionally a glimpse may be had of the musician as he plays, most frequently standing head downward, the body braced rather stiffly on the legs, the front wings only slightly elevated, the tips of the hind wings projecting a little from between them, the abdomen depressed and breathing strongly, the long antennal threads waving about in all directions. Each syllable appears to be produced by a separate series of vibrations made by a rapid shuffling of the wings, the middle one being more hurried and the last more conclusively stressed, thus producing the sound so suggestive of ka-ty-did', ka-ty-did', which is repeated regularly about sixty times a minute on warm nights. Usually at the start, and often for some time, only two notes are uttered, ka-ty, as if the player has difficulty in falling at once into the full swing of ka-ty-did.

The structure of the wings and the details of the stridu-lating parts are shown in Figure 26. The wings (A, B) fold vertically against the sides of the body, but their inner basal parts form wide, stiff, horizontal, triangular flaps that overlap, the left on top of the right. A thick, sunken, crosswise vein {fv) at the base of the left tympanum (Tm) is the file vein. It is shown from below at C where the broad, heavy file (/) is seen with its row of extremely coarse rasping ridges. The same vein on the right wing (B) is much smaller and has no file, but the inner basal angle of the tympanum is produced into a large lobe bearing a strong scraper (j) on its margin.

The quality of the katydid's song seems to differ somewhat in different parts of the country. In the vicinity of Washington, the insects certainly say ka-ty-did as plainly as any insect could. Of course, the sound is more literally to be represented as ka ki-kak', accented on the last syllable. When only two syllables are pronounced they are always the first two. Sometimes an individual in a band utters four syllables, "katv-she-did" or ka ki-ka-kak\ and again a whole band is heard singing in four notes with only an occasional singer giving three. It is said that in certain parts of the South the katydid is called a " cackle-jack," a name which, it must be admitted, is a very literal translation of the notes, but one lacking in sentiment and unbefitting an artist of such repute. In New England, the katydids heard by the writer in Connecticut and in the western part of Massachusetts uttered only two syllables much

Fig. 26. Wings and the sound-making organs of the male katydid A, left front wing, showing the greatly enlarged tympanal area (Tm), with its thick file vein (fv). B, base of right fore wing, with large scraper (s) on its inner angle, but with a very small file vein. C, under surface of file vein of left wing, showing the large, flat, coarsely-ribbed file (f)

Fig. 26. Wings and the sound-making organs of the male katydid A, left front wing, showing the greatly enlarged tympanal area (Tm), with its thick file vein (fv). B, base of right fore wing, with large scraper (s) on its inner angle, but with a very small file vein. C, under surface of file vein of left wing, showing the large, flat, coarsely-ribbed file (f)

more commonly than three, and the sounds were extremely harsh and rasping, being a loud squa-ivak', squa-wak squa-viak', the second syllable a little longer than the first. This is not the case with those that scy ka-ty. When there were three syllables the series was squa-wa-avak:. If all New England katydids sing thus, it is not surprising that some New England writers have failed to see how the insects evei got the name of "katydid." Scudder says their notes have a shocking lack of melody"; he represents the sound by xr, and records that the song is usually of only two syllables. ' That is," he says, " they rasp their fore wings twice rather than thrice; these two notes are of equal (and extraoroinary) emphasis, the latter about one-quarter longer than the former; or if three notes are given, the first and second are alike and a little shorter than the las<\

When we listen to insects singing, the question alwavs arises of why they sing, and we might as well admit that we do not know what motive impels them It is probably an nstinct with males to use their stndulating organs, but in many cases the tones emitted are clearly modified by the physical or emotional state of the player. The music seems in seme way to be connected with the mating of the sexes, and the usual idea is that the sounds are attractive to the females. With many of the crickets, however, the real attraction that the male has for the female is a liquid exuded on his back, the song apparently being a mere ad vertisement of his wares. In any case the ecstacies of love and passion asenbed to male insects in connection with their music are probably more fanciful than real. The subject is an enchanted field wherein the scientist has most often weakened and wandered from the narrow path of observed facts, and where he has mdulged in a freedom of imagination permissible to a pcet or to a newspaper reporter who wishes to enliven his chronicle of some event .n the daily news, but which does net contribute anything substantial to our knowledge of the truth

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