Animals In Appalachia Appalachia Folklore

Have You Been Hearing the Katydids?

katydid folklore

Have you been hearing the katydids at night? We’ve been hearing their chatter for a few weeks now.

Granny and Pap didn’t have air conditioning when I was a girl and with all the windows open on hot summer nights the katydid voices came through in true surround sound.

Can’t remember if I read the story of the katydid or if someone shared it with me somewhere along the way, but here is the gist of it:

There was a lovely maiden named Katy who fell in love with a handsome man. She loved him with all her heart and soul and only wanted to please him. Fate turned against her when the handsome man fell in love with her sister. The pain of seeing them together was to much for Katy and in a fit of jealous anger she killed them both. No one in town would have ever believed she killed them, but the bugs turned against her telling the towns people: Katy did it Katy did it.

Other katydid folklore:

  • katydids sing to bring in cold weather
  • 3 months from the first katydid chirp there will be frost
  • the earlier in the summer you hear the katydids-the earlier the first frost will be that fall
  • the first katydid you hear in July-it’ll frost on the same day of the month in September

Here’s a video I made a few years back of the katydid chorus around my house:

Hope you’ll leave me a comment and tell me if you’ve been hearing the katydids this summer too.

Tipper

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23 Comments

  • Reply
    Lee Mears
    July 28, 2017 at 3:49 am

    I went to Atlanta to doctor appt at end of May and katydids were singing there and when I got home to east TN they were singing here as well. I thought it a bit early but I don’t know. So now its katydids and tree frogs and they are very loud. I think the more it rains the more of them there are. ?
    I was thinking the critter that sings the one looong syllable, like a constant buzz, was the 6-weeks-till frost sound..?? according to my granny.
    Not sure which is which but its a cacophony out there.
    My little young female cat brings one to door every night and plays with it. They seem larger that usual.

  • Reply
    Robert Loftis
    July 27, 2017 at 9:20 pm

    Haven”t seen or heard “Katydids “since i was a lid.i remember hearing them at my Grand parents on Buck Creek im Mcdowell county many years ago

  • Reply
    Leslie Haynie
    July 27, 2017 at 4:11 pm

    One of my happiest memories is falling asleep listening to them at Uncle Paul & Aunt Pearl’s house one summer. They lived not too far from y’all.

  • Reply
    Charline
    July 27, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    Oh, is that what we’ve been hearing? Deafening here on the Cumberland Plateau! Saw one on the screen, too.

  • Reply
    Beth Brown
    July 27, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    I just love night sounds – from the peepers in the spring to the katydids later on. Haven’t heard them yet but I can listen to an owl when I wake up in the early, early morning. I don’t have a/c so I sleep with my windows open. I just love the night sounds.
    Beth

  • Reply
    SuzyJ
    July 27, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    Night before last is the first I actually noticed hearing the Katy’s, not to say they weren’t singing before that and I wasn’t paying attention. We have a pair of hawks in the neighborhood and they may be keeping lots of things quiet. Last week two jays were raisin cane and I looked to see one of the hawks had taken a baby jay. So sad, but the life cycle continues.
    God bless you and yours 🙂

  • Reply
    quinn
    July 27, 2017 at 11:58 am

    Your recording sounded to me like snare drums in a marching band. For a while it even sounded like two sets of drummers answering each other back and forth!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    July 27, 2017 at 11:56 am

    I haven’t heard any Katydids here yet. My daughter who lives about 17 miles away had a plague of Jarflies earlier this year but I didn’t hear a single one here (yet anyway.) I can’t sleep when the katydids are hollering. They make me want to get up and go outside.

  • Reply
    Larry Griffith
    July 27, 2017 at 11:22 am

    My wife said she heard them 2-3 wks. ago. I hear katydids and crickets year round,too much shooting when I was young without ear protection.

  • Reply
    Larry Griffith
    July 27, 2017 at 11:22 am

    My wife said she heard them 2-3 wks. ago. I hear katydids and crickets year round,too much shooting when I was young without ear protection.

  • Reply
    Larry Griffith
    July 27, 2017 at 11:22 am

    My wife said she heard them 2-3 wks. ago. I hear katydids and crickets year round,too much shooting when I was young without ear protection.

  • Reply
    Larry Griffith
    July 27, 2017 at 11:22 am

    My wife said she heard them 2-3 wks. ago. I hear katydids and crickets year round,too much shooting when I was young without ear protection.

  • Reply
    Ken
    July 27, 2017 at 10:42 am

    Tipper,
    I ain’t heard one katydid so far this year up at my house. It use to be so loud up home that you had to turn up the TV to hear O’Rilley. …Ken

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    July 27, 2017 at 10:32 am

    Tipper,
    Been hearing the “katydids and katy-didn’ts” for a couple of weeks now…Where has the summer gone.
    I loved Miss Cindy’s comment “critters feel safe to sing their songs.”
    I remember seeing a military style movie a long time ago and can’t remember the name of it…however I always have remembered this scene.
    Two guys had just dug and jumped in a fox hole in the muddy jungle of trees…They were hiding trying to rest…the crickets had started chirping…They were so tired, scared and doing their best to take turns at watch. As one guy was dosing off…the other one that was watching suddenly poked him with the butt of his gun, saying “shhhhh!” “What !”, said the dosing guy. “The crickets stopped!” Sure ‘enough in the shadows…here come the enemy soldiers. I thought my heart would pound out of my chest when I realized what the silence of the chirping crickets meant! ha
    Maybe someone can remember that oldie movie…I’ve remembered that scene since and when camping or porch sittin’ I would listen for the crickets to stop and start, wondering what predator was in the weeds….probably just a toad or sneaky snake after the cricket…I guess…..
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    wanda Devers
    July 27, 2017 at 10:21 am

    We don’t hear them here but we are hearing what Mama called “dry flies” all day. it is a steady sound–no wavering like the katydid.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    July 27, 2017 at 9:32 am

    I noticed the night when the katydids started. It was all of a sudden and all at once. I didn’t note the date though. It was in early July.
    Where I grew up in southeast Ky, the saying was that the first frost would be 90 days after the night the katydids first called. It doesn’t work here but it was reliable enough there to be able to plan based on it.

  • Reply
    Shirl
    July 27, 2017 at 9:15 am

    The katydids haven’t made a sound so far this year. Maybe it’s been too hot for them to sing. I love the folklore about why they sing.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    July 27, 2017 at 9:07 am

    They are in concert here each night too.
    It takes me back to my childhood in an old hot and unairconditioned house with the widows open hoping for a breeze to cool me off and the Katydids making their noise. The days of summer were the best. Riding my pony and being a rough and tough Sheriff after that gang of outlaws or a proud Indian warrior when I rode it bareback. A game of baseball in the yard when we could get enough to make a team. The smells of the garden and from the kitchen as mom canned our harvest. Being so dirty at the end of the day the bath water would be brown. That’s what the sounds of Katydid stirs in me, sweet memories of a childhood in Appalachia.

  • Reply
    Jack
    July 27, 2017 at 8:59 am

    Like the katydid recording. It would make good background sleep sound. Heard katydids for first time this year about 3 weeks ago.

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    July 27, 2017 at 8:53 am

    Dear Tipper, The katydids are singing in Haywood County. If I am on the road after dark I always drive with my window down. In the Spring I like to hear the frogs. Last night I listened to the katydids and watched the fireflies. I also like to keep my window down in case someone has just mown their hay. Oh, the beauty of the country…

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    July 27, 2017 at 8:03 am

    I agree with Miss Cindy. Early morning is the best part of the day.
    I also love to open everything up and just breath deep. The sounds of early morning are the best.
    I have been hearing the katydids for a few weeks. Hope the frost
    tale is not true. My acorns are very small this year which usually means a mild winter. Hope so.

  • Reply
    Jim
    July 27, 2017 at 7:27 am

    Here in Ohio, we’ve so far had one of the wettest summers ever…rain, rain, and more rain practically every other day since spring ended. Lots of heat, however, with plenty of days exceeding the 90 degree mark. Even so, the singing insects have been filling the days, and especially the nights, with their raspy fiddles. Cicadas, black, gray, and green crickets, etc. I’ve been listening for that first katydid, though haven’t yet heard one. Which isn’t surprising since around here, katydids don’t start singing until the latter half of summer.
    My family came from eastern Kentucky. I always heard that the first frost came six weeks from the date of the season’s first singing katydid. So I always listen for their countdown prophecy to begin. And most years, while they might not be smack on, they regularly call it surprisingly close.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 27, 2017 at 6:45 am

    This time of year I love the early mornings because I can turn the AC off and open the house for a few hours and feel, smell, and hear nature at her best when the earth is still, at least this part of the earth is still.
    On my early rising today I can hear the katydids singing their song. Like today. I usually don’t think about the individual sounds but the collective sound of, birds, katydids, and some other unidentifiable insects. I love it when the earth is still and the critters feel safe to sing their songs.

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