Do you hear that? That music being broadcast outside your window of chirps, tweets and thumps is a full-on symphony of insects belting out their own unique tunes. Some are peaceful and serene; others are loud and boisterous. No matter the melody, we’re counting down the loudest insects in this month’s Top 6: Noisy Insects.
The sound of the cicada is highly recognizable when summer rolls around. Sounding like a high-pitched rattle, this mating call sung by the males is the result of vibrating a part of their body called the tymbal. By doing this, cicadas are able to make loud noises, and groups of them can be heard from more than a mile away. Wow!
You know the sound. It’s common and all too annoying: you’re enjoying your favorite television show, and a fly buzzes past your head like a fighter pilot. The sound, like a miniature airplane propeller, is from the beating of their wings. These fast flappers can beat their wings about 200 times a second, allowing them to fly up to 4.5 miles per hour.
Another common sound of summer is that of the cricket. They’re even named after the high-pitched chirping sounds males make to attract females. When crickets rub their front wings together, this long chirping sound is amplified by the wing’s surface. What’s even more interesting? Cricket chirps can be used to calculate temperature by the number of sounds they make in a fifteen-second period, making them the weather forecaster of the insect world.
Everyone knows bees buzz. You can hear when they’re zooming overhead looking for a flower to munch on, or when they congregate into large groups in hives. Just like flies, they rapidly beat their wings — creating vibrations in the wind. This is the buzz humans hear when they fly by. Some bees — namely bumblebees — can also vibrate their bodies. They do this when visiting flowers to shake pollen off. Pollination occurs when the pollen is disbursed by vibration at the next flower the bees visit.
Not only are they masters of disguise; they also know how to sing quite the tune. The song of the katydid is one that can be heard outside of any household. Almost like an increasing static resonance, katydids are able to produce this sound on a broadband level by rubbing their forewings together. This rubbing vibration has been compared to sounding like “katy did, katy didn’t,” hence their name.
1. Longhorned Beetles
Claiming the top spot of our noisy critter rundown is the longhorned beetle. With a hefty appetite for hardwood trees, this beetle’s noisy demeanor results from scraping the ridges on their head against their bodies. This produces a truly creepy, static-like squeaking sound that can only be described as rubbing two pieces of styrofoam together, which is like nails on a chalkboard for some people.
“Why do bees buzz?” Scientific American
“Why are cicadas so noisy?” How Stuff Works Animals
“World’s Weirdest: Flies and Maggots” National Geographic
“Why Do Chirping Crickets Become Quiet When You Move?” About.com
“Insect Sounds: Telling Crickets, Cicadas And Katydids Apart” NPR
“The Asian Longhorned Beetle” The Nature Conservancy