What are singing insects?
The four major groups of insects that sing are the Katydids, Cicadas, Grasshoppers, and Crickets. All of these insects are herbivores that live and feed on plants. In order to find a mate, these bugs will make sounds by rubbing their wings or legs together, causing noisy vibrations that can be heard all summer long in lawns, meadows, forests, thickets, and marshes across the Midwest. Many can even be heard in the parks, streets and alleyways of your city!
Singing insects are unique in that they can be uniquely identified by their sounds, whereas other species that do not sing, such as dragonflies, have to be identified by sight. We can learn a lot about species diversity just by listening on a warm summer night.
What is the monitoring program?
Citizen science happens when everyday people participate in research, collecting data towards a common, shared goal. The goal of the Singing Insects Monitoring program is to create a sound map for insect populations in the Chicago Wilderness region. Singing insect monitors collect sound data, make field recordings, and share information about species heard in the research area.
You do not need to be an expert to participate. You can always add observations yourself to the project using the iNaturalist desktop site; however, participants who attend workshops and trainings will get an overview of the differences between local species, learn how to use recording devices like smartphones to collect more accurate data, and in some counties will be able to sign up to monitor after dark in nature preserves.
How can I get involved?
Sign up for updates on the next training via our contact form or check the Events page. 2020 workshops and trainings will be updated in March 2020.
No experience or equipment is necessary, and kids and adults alike can participate. In fact, kids can often hear the sounds of insects better than adults!
Right now the region is limited to the Chicago Wilderness Area to support Carl Strang’s research on singing insects in this region.
If you are a researcher or wish to use the data in some way or help us by hosting a training or walk at your site, even if it is not in the specified search area, we welcome involvement from museums, scientists, nonprofit organizations, and universities.
Who started this project?
My name is Kathleen Soler. I started this website because I was inspired by the work of Carl Strang, a naturalist from DuPage County, who, after years of careful research and listening in the field, compiles an annual guide to all the singing insects in the Chicago region. He had already worked on the framework for a citizen science program, and I made this website and organized some events. Negin Almassi helps run the trainings through the Forest Preserves at the Sagawau Field Science Station. Eric Leonardson of the Midwest Society of Acoustic Ecology helps lead listening walks and field recording workshops in support of this effort.
If you are interested in getting a copy of Carl’s guide, he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org – check out his website, Nature Inquiries, for updates on his work. This project has also received support from the Forest Preserves of Cook County, the Midwest Society for Acoustic Ecology and the Chicago Park District’s Natural Areas program.