Return to Houghton Lake

by Carl Strang

With the singing insect season winding down, I made a final trip of the year to Houghton Lake in north central Indiana. I had not been able to reach certain wetlands on my previous visit, but with much of my strength recovered I was able to wade through the tall dense vegetation.

The periphery of the wetland area was of good quality. There were many interspersed shrubs.

Farther in the center, the portion I explored quaked like a bog, but there was no sphagnum and I imagine it is more calcareous, over marl, and thus more fen-like. The plants were senescing, and I found no singing insects of interest in there, but it will be worth exploring earlier in a wetter year.

One highlight of the trip was a pair of black-horned or Forbes’s tree crickets I found engaged in courtship. My attention was drawn by the unusual buzzing quality of the male’s singing, which he produced whenever the female backed away.

Most of the time I watched them, she was feeding from the glands on his back at the base of his wings.

The male was relatively small and pale. The female was larger, and the darkest individual of this species pair I have seen.

Her head was black, and she had liberal amounts of black pigment on the rest of her body and legs.

These species remain active well into October, and I have wondered if the dark pigmentation is an adaptation for the late season.

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