by Carl Strang
A return to Illinois Beach State Park was called for last week, as my first visit was early enough in the season that more singing insects could have become active since. For instance, gray ground crickets were not singing yet in early August, but by last week they were active.
Hearing is not seeing, however, and despite my best efforts I could not expose a gray ground cricket for a photograph. They were in the larger patches of vegetation and trapped oak leaves, and it was too easy for them to sneak away when I tried lifting leaves and plant stems to look for the hidden singers. That disappointment was relieved somewhat by an amusing dung beetle.
I had better luck with grasshoppers. Some members of the grasshopper subfamily Oedipodinae are in the park. These qualify as singing insects, as their displays include wing-rattling flights. I found two species. One, a darker form, was in the savanna near the Dead River.
The beach was another grasshopper habitat.
A common species was pale and well camouflaged.
In the night, I followed a tree cricket’s song as it trilled in the gray ground cricket habitat.
Robust coneheads had become common in the campground woods.
I found a few more species to add to the site list, but none were particularly uncommon.