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The Songs of Insects: The Story Behind Our Book

Six years in the making, our book is a labor of love of Lang and Wil. They both came at the project from different directions not knowing that the other was pursuing a similar interest. A chance meeting in 1996 in northern Frederick County, Maryland led the two to an eventual collaboration. In 1998 Wil published an audio CD guide to the songs of the crickets and katydids of the mid-Atlantic states with Steve Rannels of Hershey, Pennsylvania. Lang purchased a copy of the CD which rekindled his interest in doing a book and audio CD project on insects. As Lang and Wil both celebrate the songs of nature it was only natural that they would pursue the singing insects of North America. Many insects produce noises but, the insects in this book are the ones that actually sing to attract a mate or to maintain a territory. (See "What is a singing Insect?")

Front with full-color photo

Species profiles are illustrated with gorgeous photos of each insect on vegetation and on white.
Range maps, natural history information and sonograpms are also included.

Back of card with description of song and web site info

Additional sections include other aspects of the insects' life such as sound production, hearing, mating, human hearing, and the aesthetics of insect song.

Illustrated with full-color photographs throughout, the book is not only informative but gorgeous to look at. Geared toward helping anyone identify these songsters the book also contains sections on the biology of these species as well as the aesthetics of singing insects. Range maps for each species help the observer to locate insects that they are interested in or perhaps give the keen observer information that could lead to a documented range expansion for a particular species.

The first page for each species showcases the insect in full-color on a white background, appearing as if standing right on the page. The inspiration for this technique came from several sources but the perhaps the most intriguing was Robin Laughlin's Backyard Bugs. Wil and Lang perfected the "whitebox" technique to produce a shadow that was obvious yet subtle and pleasing. See the section on photography for a full description of this wonderful technique.

The facing page for each species showcases a full-color image of the insect on vegetation. These gorgeous images make the book a treat for the eye. Several reviewers of the book exclaim that they have never seen insects so beautifully portrayed, with exceptional clarity and detail.

During the making of the book Lang and Wil found several species in areas well beyond their recorded ranges. Conferring with Dr. Tom Walker of the University of Florida it was concluded that indeed these represented real range extensions for these species. This makes the maps in The Songs of Insects the most complete and up-to-date set of range maps for these species published to date.

Identifying these musicians by their songs is certainly the most rewarding way of experiencing these insects in the field. The 70 minute all digital compact audio disc that is included with the book provides the reader and listener with stunning recordings of all the species covered in the book. For more information on how the recordings were made please see the recording section of this web site. The book includes a description of the song for each species as well as a sound spectrogram of a portion of song. Learn more about the sound spectrogram in the recording section of this web site.

We hope that you will find "The Songs of Insects" an indispensable reference for you to have in the field this summer. The frogs sing in early spring followed by the crescendo of bird song as summer waxes. In late summer and fall the orchestra is replaced with these tiny musicians that fiddle away in the woods and fields bringing joy to all who care to look and learn. We hope birders, butterfly and dragonfly watchers as well as naturalists of all kinds will add the singing insects to there keen-eyed forays near to home or farther afield.