Folklore

Katydid in Full Force

a katydid on window

The katydids have been out in full force for several weeks now. I love to listen to their repetitive chorus. Even with all the windows shut you can still hear their nightly banter. Sometimes The Deer Hunter opens our bedroom window a little so we can hear them better.

Not everyone enjoys hearing katydids. Over the years I’ve written about them several times and a few people have said they think katydids are the most horrible sound on earth.

Years ago I was at a contra dance at the Folk School and stepped outside for a breath of air—it can get very hot on the Keith House dance floor when there’s a crowd.

Another gentlemen visiting the area and attending the dance had the same idea. He said “It’s really loud in this part of the US.” It took me a minute to realize he was talking about the katydids.

If you’ve never heard the story behind why katydids make their sound here’s the jist 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 too 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.

Here’s a few pieces of katydid folklore

  • katydids sing to bring in cold weather (I’m telling you it takes them a while 🙂 )
  • 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

If you’ve never heard katydids before, here’s a short video recording of them I did several years ago.

Every year I hope to notice the very first night the katydids began their song, but I never manage to accomplish it.

Tipper

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21 Comments

  • Reply
    Helen Jones
    August 3, 2021 at 9:36 pm

    Raised without air conditioning or a fan, our windows were open 24/7. I love hearing the katydids and night critters. It’s part of being country. I open my bathroom window at night here in the city so I feel at home

  • Reply
    Denise R
    August 3, 2021 at 5:12 pm

    Katydids are part of the wonderful sounds of summer here where we live. Our house is surrounded by woods on 3 sides and when the fall temps start showing up I go through withdrawals when the katydids quit singing. I always look forward to what summer brings when the sun goes down. Hearing the katydid, crickets and other bugs is a soothing, relaxing sound. Our katydids usually start singing July 18th, which is my birthday, but this year, we didn’t start hearing them until the 25th. They are in full force now and will be until the middle of September, or longer I hope!

  • Reply
    donna sue
    August 3, 2021 at 4:54 pm

    I love the sound of the katydids! I also love that little video you made of them. Thank you!

    Donna. : )

  • Reply
    Kat Swanson
    August 3, 2021 at 11:56 am

    As one storyteller to another, nice tale! I’d never heard your version. Reminded me of what my mom used to say at night if I was not minding her….we’d hear the old whippoorwill calling and mom would say…..hear that daughter? It’s saying ….WHIP HER I WILL….WHIP HER I WILL

  • Reply
    Gigi
    August 3, 2021 at 11:29 am

    I don’t mind them at all. Another part of nature. My grandson loves em too.

  • Reply
    Diane
    August 3, 2021 at 11:05 am

    I have not heard those here in North Idaho. Glad you get to enjoy their sound. We have plenty of other evening sounds for entertainment and some for a bother such as the Northern Saw-whet Owl. This little teeny-tiny owl can go on for hours during mating season. It’s a single high pitch note that continues for hours.

  • Reply
    LJ
    August 3, 2021 at 10:35 am

    We love the katydids here! We also love the tree frogs & our yearly cicadas. Years ago I read about Katydids & remember reading that they chip with either 3 or 4 syllables. I can’t remember the story, but the end said that the Katydids were divided in their opinions. Some said, “Katy did,” while others said, “Katy didn’t.” I listened more closely after that, & I do indeed hear some say Katy did & others say Kady didn’t! Or maybe that should say Katy did it! 🙂
    My name is Linda & I have been enjoying reading your site for a couple months. I found you because youtube linked me to your honey nut bread. I really enjoy reading your stories, vocabulary, recipes, & gardening. I am a life long Hoosier, & I must admit that we say so many of the same words! I have often been told that we have a southern accent, which always astounds me because I have lived in Indiana for well more than 50 years. I believe that both my & my husband’s family have been hoosiers for at least 5 generations, but maybe more. Also, both our families came here from Kentucky & Ohio. So maybe our far back roots come from down south, & our families have passed on our vocabulary words from generation to generation.
    We also have a big garden every year, & put up green beans, tomatoes, etc every year, so I really enjoy your gardening posts too!
    Thank you for taking so much time that it must take to have this blog. I enjoy it so much!

  • Reply
    Glenda Beall
    August 3, 2021 at 10:33 am

    I need to open my windows and listen. Maybe that would help my insomnia. Thanks for the video. Once when a young nephew stayed with us, he said he couldn’t sleep because of the “bugs.” He meant the night sounds in the woods that we hardly noticed because we were used to them and probably liked them.

  • Reply
    Ray Presley
    August 3, 2021 at 10:29 am

    As a kid I was often able to catch a katydid just as their “song” was ending, and I agree with whoever remarked that their song can be a bit irritating. Nevertheless, I always enjoyed hearing them, one of the beautiful sounds of summer. The bullfrogs also made a distinct sound, but other sounds… like the owls and morning doves were more subdued.

  • Reply
    Liz Hart
    August 3, 2021 at 10:09 am

    As I sit on my porch at night and listen to the Katydids, I see only one or two fireflies (lightning bugs here in middle Ga) and wonder what happened to the swarms I used to see as a kid.

  • Reply
    Jenny Young
    August 3, 2021 at 9:51 am

    I love this sound. It was my white noise machine as a child. Even though they’re very loud where I live in nw Arkansas, I rarely hear them now because the AC is so loud. I often go out onto our screened porch at night just to hear them.

    • Reply
      Sherry
      August 3, 2021 at 11:34 am

      I love that sound! Thanks for sharing, Tipper.

  • Reply
    Donald Wells
    August 3, 2021 at 9:34 am

    Liked the story behind why the katydids make their sounds,along with the folklore tales,very interesting. All God’s creations are unique, and always leave me in awe,when I stop and ponder.

  • Reply
    Shirl
    August 3, 2021 at 9:02 am

    I feel sorry for anyone who doesn’t have the pleasure of hearing the kadydids and frogs singing their lullaby at bedtime. My sister is one who is just fine with not hearing the most lonesome sound she has ever heard.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    August 3, 2021 at 8:41 am

    I am like you. I try to hear the first katydid. Two things against us though. First we don’t sleep with windows wide open anymore. And when the katydids start, I think beginning is just a few, becoming the world full very soon afterward.

    I grew up hearing the 90 days till first frost folk saying. In southeastern KY that came out around October 10 which was a good date. But then there was the question; general frost or down on the creeks? So quite a bit of room for variation.

  • Reply
    Carol Roy
    August 3, 2021 at 8:31 am

    So interesting to read about Katydids …. never knew of them ….and tks for giving us folks who are not familiar the video to hear them…it seemed loud to me but I am sure one gets used to them. ps…loved the story as well! tx.

  • Reply
    Margie G for get ready
    August 3, 2021 at 8:25 am

    Those katydids are noisy little creatures but I’m inclining with you and others they’re a wonderful sound of summer nights. I have been hearing crickets too which is supposed to mean 6 weeks til frost. The way I figure it, there’ll be frost by Sept 15 here in WV. I awoke to cold and wind and darkness like no August I’ve ever seen in my 54 years. There’s something going on and I think the Bible plainly tells what it is. The weather chick in my town said “August is cool traditionally.” First of all is she paid to tell tales? The end of August may cool but the first day of August???? I’m telling you all the powers that be think we are stupid.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    August 3, 2021 at 7:50 am

    It’s funny Tipper, I don’t live far from you and I have no katydids. I guess it’s because I don’t have woods around me. I like their sound, it’s soothing!

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    August 3, 2021 at 7:27 am

    One of the wonderful sounds of summer. I often go sit on the porch for a few minutes before going to bed just to listen.

  • Reply
    Larry Paul Eddings
    August 3, 2021 at 6:26 am

    I love to hear the Katy vids sing. What would a summer night be without their familiar and melodic chorus?

  • Reply
    Sheryl A Paul
    August 3, 2021 at 6:18 am

    They are konda like white noise. Yhey put me to sleep

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