Insect Absences

by Carl Strang

This past weekend I took advantage of the warm weather to see about filling some absences in my singing insects records. First, I wanted to get some clarity on the apparent absence of fall field crickets (FFC) from Winfield Mounds and East Branch Forest Preserves. Second, I hoped to find woodland meadow katydids. Winfield Mounds is a fairly large preserve, and it contains a considerable area of habitat that appears to be suitable for FFC.

I extended my search through several habitats like this, and despite repeated visits to this preserve have failed to find FFC there. Winfield Mounds does, however, have the spring field cricket, sibling species to the FFC. The closest FFC I found to the preserve were several singing in a railroad embankment just across the road from the preserve’s southern edge.

I frequently put on the SongFinder to see if I could locate woodland meadow katydids in or near the woods edges. There were none. Mostly I was hearing short-winged meadow katydids. As I was checking the reconstructed mounds for which the preserve was named, I found this singer.

Its song was that of a short-winged, and the grassy bit of habitat was appropriate despite being in the center of the woods.

However, this insect had very long wings. Its song, coloration, and cerci (below) showed it to be a rare short-winged meadow katydid with long wings.

I went on to the area surrounding East Branch Forest Preserve. The closest FFC I found was in a residential neighborhood, several blocks away from the preserve boundary. There is a lacuna in the species’ local distribution, but it is not huge. East Branch, like Winfield Mounds, has spring field crickets.

Waterfall Glen would seem the most likely place to find woodland meadow katydids in DuPage County. Earlier I had searched without success in the western part of that large preserve. This weekend I made two stops in the eastern part. Again, I was hearing plenty of short-winged meadow katydids. Here is one of them, with a more conventional wing length.

I have come to the conclusion that this is the most abundant meadow katydid by far in DuPage, and among singing insects is rivaled only by the three common ground cricket species. I failed again to find woodland meadow katydids, and I wonder if they are supplanted locally by short-wingeds.

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