by Carl Strang
One of the target species this year in my singing insects study was the robust conehead, a large katydid. It had proven to be absent from DuPage County, though the entire region is included in range maps for the species, and Richard Alexander had reported that he collected one in southern DuPage decades ago. Last year I concluded from my literature review that it primarily is a species of sandy soil areas, at least in the northeast Illinois-northwest Indiana region. As I drove the roads after dark in the Kankakee Sands bioblitz, I quickly found robust coneheads to be common.
Their song is indeed as loud as the literature suggests. Like those of some other conehead species, it is a high-pitched continuous buzz, but it is so loud that it carries a long distance, and up close its volume is amazing. If a clincher is needed, the color of the cone provides it.
Robust coneheads generally occurred in tall dense herbaceous vegetation in open areas. On occasion this included narrow roadside strips backed by woodlands, though such sites were never far from more extensive openings.