If you have been eagerly awaiting the new groundbreaking CD and book entitled The Songs Of Insects, which features a symphony of bugs singing in harmony, then I am afraid that you just missed it. However, for the five or six people who love the sound of crickets and grasshoppers grooving, the world’s most musically talented bugs can still be heard at the website associated with the book and CD. So what exactly is this bug symphony thing? Well, it is indeed an actual thing, and there is a good chance that you have already heard the majestic chorus of the katydids but did not realize that you were hearing a concert put on for bugs.
Back in 2007 two men, Lang Elliott and Wil Hershberger, published the above mentioned book and CD for all the world to enjoy, and history was changed forever. Well, that might be going a bit far since the book is now out of print, but there is no denying the refreshing originality of their creation. The two men, probably fed up with trying to teach themselves guitar for their own band, set out into the wild in order to record the unique and harmonious sounds coming from the nearby forest.
The CD featured bugs belonging to the order of insects known as Orthoptera and Hemiptera. The Orthoptera include grasshoppers, katydids and crickets, and it is only the males of this particular order that are capable of singing complex tunes. As far as bug-music goes the males of the Orthoptera order are on par with the great masters of opera.
The Orthoptera order of insects do not have vocal chords, but they are able to produce sounds that are reminiscent of bird chirping. Crickets and katydids, for example, resort to a method known as stridulation to create unique sounds. Both of these insects use the base of their forewings to scrape against the underside of the upper wing, or the file as the experts call it.
The concert also features cicadas, which is the only member of the Hemiptera order to be included in the epic bug-musical. The cicadas produce sounds via a physiological process that is vaguely similar to the manner in which humans produce sounds. Cicadas possess organs called “tymbals” which are located on the abdomen directly behind the wings. Muscles cause the tymbal to contract which produce sounds that are amplified through the trachea. The cicadas could be considered the main feature at the bizarre concert due to the extremely loud sounds that they emit with each contraction. In fact, cicadas are currently known to be the loudest of all insects, far louder than the chorus produced by the orthoptera. I am sure that the insect symphony sounds a bit unusual, but I would take it over today’s music.
Can you remember a time in your life when you experienced the confining sounds of cicadas? Could the cicadas orotund sounds serve as a selective advantage?