Sure, it’s September already, but there’s still plenty of warm weather left in most of North America. If you need an excuse to get outside again, a pilot project called the Atlas of North American Calling Insects could use your help.
The atlas is designed to get a better idea of the distribution of those insects that are often heard, but not usually seen: crickets, katydids, grasshoppers, and locusts (all of the order orthoptera). These insects make sounds by rubbing body parts together, usually wings or legs, in a process called stridulation. (In case you’re wondering, that other summer noisemaker, the cicada, uses a different process involving tymbals — corrugated membranes in the abdomen — to make its distinctive sound.)
To take part in the pilot, all you need is a smart phone and the SoundCloud app. When you hear insects near where you live, take a brief recording of them, and then go to the Atlas site, login with your SoundCloud credentials, and upload your clip. You don’t have to identify the insect noises or submit a picture; someone involved with the project will identify what you’ve recorded.
Finally, no post about grasshoppers and their ilk would be complete without an introduction to the delightful “Minuscule” films by Futurikon. Check out this one called Catapult for a laugh.