Appalachia

Katydids

My lackluster job of capturing the sound of a jar fly reminded me of the post below which was published here on the Blind Pig in September of 2009.

Katydid sayings and folklore

 

As summer gives way to fall-one of the things I will miss-is the nightly song of Katydids around my house. Earlier this summer while attending a contra dance, I stepped outside to try to escape the heat. A gentleman remarked to me that nights in this part of the US were really loud. Took me a minute to figure out-he was talking about the Katydids.

Each spring I anxiously await the katydid chorus-thinking this will be the year that I’ll notice the first chirp they make. It never happens. Suddenly one night I hear them in full concert and wonder how many nights they’ve been singing while I was too busy or tired to notice.

Folklore of the katydid

 

I remember listening to the katydids when I was a little girl. With no air conditioning-all the windows in the house were left open during summer nights-which made for a surround sound of katydid voices. Somewhere along the way I picked up the story of how the katydids got their name. I don’t recall if someone told me or if I read it in a book. The gist of the story:

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-the handsome man fell in love with her sister. The pain of seeing them together was to much for her 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.

I would amuse myself by trying to prove the katydids were saying something else like ‘yes she did no she didn’t yes she did no she didn’t’. I guess I felt sorry for the heart broken Katy and wondered if the bugs were really sure she killed the lovers.

Some 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

This is what the katydids sounded like earlier in the summer-as I stood on my front porch.

Do you have katydids around your house in the summer? Do you like their song?

Tipper

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20 Comments

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    September 12, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    tipper,
    to the sounds from katydids to grasshoppers.
    One old country boy went to the city in the spring and dated a city girl, who wanted him to take her to the opera. He was so out of place and miserable, he singled out the sound of the grasshopper.
    She touched his arm and said dear are you enjoying the Opera singer, he still having his mind on the grasshopper sound he whispered back yes , they make that sound by rubbing their legs. together.

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    September 12, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    Tipper.
    I heard a katydid sing, was the last of August, so I had forgot what the old timer counted two or three months it would frost. thanks for reminding me three months until frost. I feel we will have an early winter just feeling in my bones as the old Indian great grandmother wisdom would say of weather. I was sitting still long enough perhaps to hear one sing though. So according to my hearing of the Katydid it will frost in late November or early December.I have seen snow blowing on the 16th of Oct in the year 1988.( blue snow as old timer called it)

  • Reply
    PinnacleCreek
    September 12, 2014 at 12:04 am

    Here I am posting late at night, Tipper. I missed you today, as I was out galavanting about.
    I treasure those sounds, as nothing keeps one grounded more than the wonderful sounds heard through windows growing up. They are always there when I step outside; always reassuring me that no matter what life throws my way there is always nature bringing me unexpected surprises.
    I become annoyed with myself when I don’t grab a glass of tea and go sit on the porch to just listen. It takes me to a safe place in life. Makes me wonder if sometimes men in foxholes were reassured by the wonderful sounds of nature at times.
    My Dad was so in tune with nature, and he taught me that great appreciation of all creatures.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    September 11, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    You know Ken is right. We didn’t call them Katydids either. We called them kittydids.

  • Reply
    Quinn
    September 11, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    I have the same experience you describe, but with the Spring Peepers (little frogs) here…I try to catch the first night when they call, but instead of hearing a few it’s always a massive chorus and I wonder how many nights they’ve already been peeping away!

  • Reply
    dolores
    September 11, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    It is always fascinating to listen to the katydids sing theire song. I think many of us take for granted that they ae in the nighttime musical.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    September 11, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    Tipper,
    We always called them chiddy-dids.
    Maybe that’s why I never heard the
    story of the Katy-did, but I enjoyed it…Ken

  • Reply
    S. Wright
    September 11, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    I remember hearing them when I was growing up in MS, particularly in the outdoor hall when we went to camp meeting. We definitely have them here in Nantahala, and I enjoy them along with the cicadas, the birds (hummingbirds in particular) and the sound of the creek running through our yard. Maybe I’m more “in tune” with nature up here because we hear way too much “human noise” when we return briefly to FL. Nature definitely wins!

  • Reply
    Leslie
    September 11, 2014 at 11:13 am

    Some of my happiest memories were spending the weekends with my Great Uncle and Aunt near Murphy. They kept the windows open and going to sleep in the cool air with the katydids singing was so delicious.

  • Reply
    Nita
    September 11, 2014 at 10:16 am

    When I was a kid I remember how they sung me to sleep at my granny’s house in Alabama. I recently moved to a wooded area in N. C. & heard the same sound. I thought they were “cicadas”. I called them cicadas for months & finally googled the sound & found they are katydids! ( knowledge is greatly increased! Lol ). Thank you for the story about their name!

  • Reply
    Joyce Heishman
    September 11, 2014 at 10:12 am

    The simple things in life bring happiness. Thank you for bring the sounds of my childhood back to me.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    September 11, 2014 at 9:33 am

    I don’t know how many of your readers know what a crosscut saw sounds like or even what it is but thats what katydids remind me of. When you are cutting through a real hard knot or if the wood it frozen, the teeth will make a chattering sound. The return stroke will make a slightly different sound.
    You got Coriedids there to?

  • Reply
    Shirla
    September 11, 2014 at 9:22 am

    It gets loud around here in the summer evenings when the Katydids join the jar flies and frogs to play my favorite music. I was outside late yesterday and it was too quiet, almost like the insects were frightened into silence by the storm that was headed our way.
    Thanks for sharing the interesting folklore.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    September 11, 2014 at 9:01 am

    Tipper–I think that all too often we become oblivious to nature’s symphonies–the song of katydids, the busy buzz of jarflies, the hum of bees, the songs of birds, and the countless signs of the seasons which all tell a tale if only the listening ear, observant eye, and open mind will pay heed. I fear we do this in a way vastly inferior to those who went before us.
    Jim Casada
    http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    September 11, 2014 at 8:55 am

    I love the sounds of Katydids, a wonderful way to be lulled to sleep

  • Reply
    Gina S
    September 11, 2014 at 8:42 am

    Before air conditioning, katydids provided my summer lullaby. I always mean to count ahead from their first serenade to the date of the first frost, but often forget. This year I do recall that the frost will be an early one, if the katydids prove to be accurate forecasters. With cool mornings coming on early, my money’s on the katydid.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    September 11, 2014 at 8:22 am

    Don is right, I can hear both katy did and katy didn’t. Perhaps we hear what we think we’ll hear.
    I think you did a fine job of capturing their sound.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    September 11, 2014 at 7:49 am

    Tipper,
    Lots of Katydids here. It seems they have been sawing several weeks. I always heard that when you hear the first one, it will frost in 6 weeks. I always miss the first sound, like I missed the first August fog this year. There were several early in the month. All signs I have seen point to a early, fast and furious winter. Except, I have not seen a wooly bear caterpillar.
    I did see one in mid-Spring. It was all dark! Don’t know exactly what that means since it was that early.
    We camped one year in the middle of the forest. The Katydids were so loud you couldn’t hear yourself or conversation on the cabin porch! The next morning my Dad said to us, be careful going outside for there are bound to be piles of legs and wings out there, cause they sawed all night! lol My folks, well a lot of them, called the sound they made sawin’! The vote around here is sometimes she did and some she didn’t. Poor Katy…she has a problem anyhow. You know only the males sing Katydid/Katydidn’t! Females may or may not chirp!
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS…We get our first cool down this week I hear!

  • Reply
    TimMc
    September 11, 2014 at 7:01 am

    O yea we gottem, I kinda miss the whippoorwills, and the owls, we lost all that when the 4 lane came through, and coyotes would howl behind the house, haven’t heard one in a while just see one as “road kill” every once in a while. The 4 lane has a way of keeping the coons, possums, armadillos, coyotes and stray animals thinned out if you know what I mean.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    September 11, 2014 at 5:25 am

    In response to your questions: Plenty of katydids around here, and yes, I enjoy the song.
    There are katydids, but also katydidn’ts. See if you don’t think there are as many didn’t as dids.

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