Stormy Night of the Katydids

As night was falling, a rumbling thunderstorm moved in from the west. Common True Katydids were calling raucously from the oak woods in back of my house with temperatures in the low 80s. The interplay of the storm and the katydids was a delight to my ears. Featured here is a portion of that recording. Listening with headphones will put you right in the midst of the action.

Common True Katydids are among the loudest of our night-time singing insects. They are flightless, having to walk from tree-to-tree through the vegetation or on the ground. Severe storms can dislodge a number of these large katydids and send them to the forest floor. Looking for them after a very windy storm may yield a number of these handsome creatures walking along the ground in search of a tree to climb.

The harsh, rattled call of the males, ch-ch-ch, is familiar to most anyone who lives within their range. Groups of males in one tree will often alternate singing with another group of males singing in a neighboring tree, thus creating a pulsating cadence.

I hope that you enjoy this interesting recording of these night-time chorusers.

Common True Katydids singing during an approaching thunderstorm. Recorded by Wil Hershberger, July 31, 2012 in West Virginia.


  1. I’m looking for the extended version of this recording that used to be available at the Macaulay Library website. I just love it.

  2. I recently became aware of this site via a presentation by you at Huntley Meadows Park. It is fascinating to learn the information and details collected by you and contained there-in. I guide evening kayak nature tours at Mason Neck State Park and I am usually talking to the guests about frog sounds at night. This being September, the frogs are mostly gone and I was able to relate your stories and demonstrate insect sounds on the most recent tour. The guests were fascinated and readily participated in a name-that-insect game. Your site was also discussed at our last Virginia Master Naturalist meeting and many of the members were as enthralled as I am.

    • Thank you, Jerry. I am so glad to hear your feedback about the presentation at Huntley Meadows. It was a wonderful group and a terrific walk afterward. I am also very pleased to hear that people are finding this site useful and educational. Thank you again for commenting.

  3. This is wonderful! I would imagine that this year’s hot summer caused this insect’s populations to peak.

  4. Hi Wil, That’s a great recording! The balance is just perfect. It reminds me of my Appalachian Trail days in 2010. By the way, may i have a downloadable version of this recording, so i may put it on my portable music player and listen to it before going to bed. Thanks.

  5. Thanks Wil! I already own a Zoom H2 Handy Recorder that I have had for a few years. I just assumed this would be too “low end” to do much justice to the beauty of nature sounds. Guess I will work with it and see how it goes.

  6. Wil, this is quite splendid! Downright exciting, and the katydid chorus/thunder balance is perfect. I have to admit, though, I’m jealous of your thunderstorm. We’ve had so very little rain in Cleveland this summer.

    • Thank you Lisa. We have had a few too many nasty thunderstorms this summer. We have had several episodes of wind damage here as a result. At least I was able to record the interplay of the katydids and the storm without the storm getting out of hand šŸ™‚

  7. Great recording! I am a nature photographer & environmental educator. I would like to do some recording that would be quality enough to post on my blog and Facebook to use for educational purposes.
    What specific equipment would be best without going high end/cost? Any sites that are good for info? I read Cornell Lab/Macauley info.

  8. Wil, that is truly great! As Lang said, the katydids often overwhelm the recording, but the distance here is perfect. The thunder is audible, but also isn’t overpowering. I have been making amateur efforts at recording such sound spectacles as I call them and I know how hard it is to get all the sounds just right. Great work, keep them coming!

    • Thank you very much Nick. Placing the microphones can be an art in itself. Trying to balance the “players” within a sound field can be tricky. Lots of experience can make finding a “sweet spot” a less daunting task.
      Thanks again,

  9. Wonderful recording Wil! Very pleasing to my ears. The katydids do not overwhelm as they often do. And the thunder sounds great, both over my speakers and through headphones. How long is the original recording?

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