by Carl Strang
Earlier this week I encountered a katydid on the concrete drive near the friary at Mayslake Forest Preserve.
Its wing and head shape placed it among the bush katydids. It was too small for a Texas bush katydid, and its wings were too narrow for a broad-winged. To identify it I had to catch it and photograph the tip of its abdomen. I was rewarded with a surprisingly sharp nip on the finger which, though it grabbed my attention, didn’t even break the skin.
The distinctive shape of the gray structure gives this insect its common name. I had photographed one a few years earlier, at Fullersburg Woods.
Though references say these katydids frequent bushes and herbaceous growth as well as trees, in my limited experience this is a tree-dwelling species in northeast Illinois. Its song is a bit of a challenge, being typically a single quick lisping rasp of the wings that, to my ear, is not much different from the alternate song of the greater angle-winged katydid. The only suggestion I have seen that promises a solution to this difficulty is in the instructions for the New York Cricket Crawl. They suggest that this sound is produced only once every few minutes by the greater angle-wing, while the fork-tailed calls several times a minute. I suppose until I have reason to believe otherwise, or can learn to distinguish the two, I shall have to follow this demarcation.