Seeking Nimble Meadow Katydids

by Carl Strang

In recent weeks I have been reviewing species of singing insects which the literature indicates may occur in northeast Illinois or northwest Indiana but which I have not yet found in my own survey. This week’s example is the nimble meadow katydid.

This map from the Singing Insects of North America (SINA) website shows our area to be in the center of this katydid’s known range. As has been true for many species, a narrow habitat preference appears to be the reason this one is encountered less often than others. Nimble meadow katydids reportedly are restricted to emergent or overhanging vegetation at the edges of open water. In fact, Hebard in his 1934 review of Illinois Orthoptera said it was found only where vegetation protruded from water at least waist deep. He had it in only 2 northeast Illinois locations in northern Lake and McHenry Counties. This points to the Chain o’Lakes State Park area along the Fox River. All Illinois records for the species in the SINA database are dated 1934 or older. The same is true for Indiana, except for one from Starke County (Bass Lake? Kankakee River area?). Otherwise, the old Indiana records include Marshall (Lake Maxinkuckee) and Fulton counties.

The nimble meadow katydid gives me an excuse to search from my sea kayak next summer. Two accessible places to seek it, along with other rare wetland species, are Lake Maxinkuckee (the Venetian Village area) and Chain o’Lakes State Park.

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