Forsythe Woods

by Carl Strang

Last week I provided a field training on singing insects for interpretive naturalists in Will County, a group organized the Nina Baki of that county’s Forest Preserve District. We started at Braidwood Dunes, finding the same species that I encountered in my first visit there a year ago, plus a few more. After an enjoyable dinner at a nearby restaurant, four of us went on to Forsythe Woods Forest Preserve to see what singing insects would emerge in the darkness. We were gifted with some good displays by several species, including the first broad-winged tree crickets I have heard singing this year.

The raspberry colored top of the head and bases of the antennae distinguish this species.

While I was attempting to get clear photos of that tree cricket, someone noticed another insect near it. This one arrested our attention. The greater part of an inch long, its broad face and extremely long antennae, its reddish color, and the apparent lack of wings contrasted it with everything we had seen that day. It was tempting to call it a nymph, but I had a hunch that this was a cricket belonging to a wingless group.

Fortunately this odd insect posed long enough for a clear photo.

The next day I went to the BugGuide website, a generally reliable source of insect images, and it and other web references identified this as a Carolina leaf-roller. This is a truly odd cricket, the only member of its family (Gryllacrididae) north of the tropics. The family is mainly a southern hemisphere group, with many of the several hundred species found in Australia. Carolina leaf-rollers spend the day sheltered in a leaf they roll up and glue closed, or sometimes in the inflated pod of a bladdernut bush. At night they emerge to prey on aphids. They are not singing insects, indeed being wingless, but are fascinating creatures nevertheless.


  1. nickonnature said,

    September 3, 2012 at 7:11 am

    Carl, I love the Carolina leaf-roller! It’s always great to read about some difherent species that aren’t very common.

    Just a quick question, have you noticed far fewer common true katydids this season than previous years? We had a scarce few from early August through about the 20th, but now when their songs typically are so loud you can barely hear yourself think when in the woods, I haven’t heard even one in weeks. Just curious if you were noticing this at all and if so, what your thoughts on it are.

    • natureinquiries said,

      September 3, 2012 at 2:22 pm

      Hi, Nick,
      I have been spending most of my time in new places, where I don’t have the benefit of previous experience. We seem to have plenty, though. In my neighborhood, for instance, I am hearing 2 or 3 most night, which is more than usual.

  2. nickonnature said,

    September 3, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    Thanks for the reply. I thought there might be a more wide area deficit this year in these guys, but it looks like it’s just me. I haven’t seen mention of it on any of the other nature blogs and sites I read either. It just seems like each year we lately we have been seeing fewer and fewer, and this year, as I said, I’m lucky to hear even one. The weather couldn’t be an issue as it’s been well above average temp-wise this summer. I’m at a loss; maybe next year!

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