Saturday, September 12, 2009

Common True Katydid Pretty Common Afterall

In 1920, a naturalist by the name of William T. Davis published a paper (pdf) in the Journal of the New York Entomological Society in which he described what appeared at the time to be the disappearance of the common true katydid (Pterophylla camellifolia) from the forests of New York City. He noted in particular a 1908 publication that described the insect "quite numerous and very noisy in the tall trees in the Egbertville [Staten Island] ravine," but lamented the fact that by the time he was writing they were completely gone from the island.

His assumption was that increasingly poor air quality, caused by the factories that were cropping up along Arthur Kill had driven them away. All he had was 1919 report from S. Harmsted Chubb of the American Museum of Natural Hostory, who heard some singing in some tall trees near Van Cortland Park on the evening of October 6. After that, and until the present day, there were no reports of P. camellifolia anywhere in the City.

Of course, the Cricket Crawl took that as a challenge and almost immediately some teams set out to find it. Advance teams in the Bronx Forest and Manhattan's West Village reported songs on September 1 and later on the far western edge of Manhattan, on Staten Island, and in New Jersey.

Tonight, the air seems to be almost alive with the calls of this once-elusive insect and we are getting reports from teams in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Queens of common true katydids singing from trees.

1 comment:

  1. People residing in areas of Manhattan would do well to know the air quality level as well as asthma and allergy alerts from the many websites that provide these informations to better gauge the situation.