by Carl Strang
Yesterday I described sweep sampling. The day after I tried out the technique in the stream corridor prairie, I shifted to Mayslake’s savannas. The first sample, taken in the tall herbaceous vegetation at the edge of the north savanna, produced this female meadow katydid.
The critical feature, as I understand it, is the length of the ovipositor, the sword-like extension at the tip of the abdomen. On this individual the ovipositor is longer than the femur, and so I conclude that it is a straight-lanced meadow katydid. This was the first species on the list of those I had not yet found, as it is said to be very common. The song is a faint, high-pitched, continuous trill, which fates it to blend with all the other insect songs even with the aid of the SongFinder. The short-winged and slender meadow katydid songs are easier to pick out because the trills are relatively short and preceded by ticks. The spaces, starts and stops allow those songs to stand out. Other features that may distinguish it from those other two small meadow katydids are the short wings (compared to the slender meadow katydid’s very long ones) and the green abdomen tip (that of the short-winged meadow katydid is yellow).
Among the other insects that turned up in the savanna sweep samples was this little caterpillar, which may be an early instar of the polyphemus moth.
I will continue to seek out the more obscure singing insects.