by Carl Strang
Between the roads and parking lots at the east end of Bendix Woods are divides containing layers of 1- to 2-inch gravel stones, in a layer several inches deep.
On the Friday afternoon of the Bendix Woods bioblitz I heard sounds coming from those divides that were definitely crickety, and definitely not belonging to any species I had yet heard in the 22-county region I am surveying for singing insects. The calling songs did ring a bell, though, and on Saturday morning I began to dig where a few of the singers were located. I caught one of the crickets, a female, and my suspicion was confirmed.
These insects are as big as fall field crickets, but instead of being black, are colored in shades of cream and brown.
They were not even on my hypothetical list of singing insects in the region, as they never had been documented here and range maps place them in southern Indiana, but not in the northern half of the state. I have to question how they came to be in this place. While it is true that this introduced Asian species is expanding its range outward from Alabama (probably the port of Mobile), the population at Bendix Woods appears to be isolated by habitats inappropriate for the species. It is, perhaps tellingly, adjacent to the park’s maintenance area.
The founders of this cricket population may have been brought in with landscaping materials or plants transported from farther south. There are, however, so many of them, spread over several of those gravel divides, that they almost certainly have been building their numbers over at least a couple years, demonstrating their ability to survive our winters. That tells me that it is only a matter of time before they become widespread in our region. For recordings of the songs and more photos, check out this species’ page at the Singing Insects of North America website: http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/walker/buzz/551a.htm