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Sounds of nature tell a captivating story

One local woman records and identifies insects using their calls, using them to track changes in the environment

WILLOUGHBY HILLS, Ohio — Dr. Lisa Rainsong says insects were the first musicians.

"Basically they have a concert hall from the ground to the tops of the trees, unlike the Cleveland orchestra that has a concert hall that's horizontal."

Rainsong is a faculty member at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and her love of the sounds of nature moved her to action. She's been recording the calls of crickets, katydids, and lots of other critters to open peoples ears to what's living around them.

"When we start listening to that," she explained, "it adds a whole picture and a whole experience of what's happening in their lives and we actually become a part of that.

Learning these calls is a challenge, but it's also rewarding.

Rainsong's free online field guide is full of recordings and photos of summertime music makers like the snowy tree cricket, the True Katydid, and the tiny Spring Trig, plus many other Northeast Ohio species. They're very romantic songs.

"The males are auditioning, and the females make the choice," says Rainsong, smiling.

The love songs of insects can tell us a lot, from the health of an ecosystem to the effects of climate change and more. Their music can add a layer of awareness to what's around us. and Rainsong hopes it will lead to conservation.

"I think, more than anything ... protecting the concert halls is essential, or the concerts won't continue."

And then, we would go away. So sing on, insects! Sing on!

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