October 13, 2014 at 6:03 am (insects (other), mammals, plant-eating insects, reptiles and amphibians, singing insects)
Tags: black-legged meadow katydid, Chortophaga viridifasciata, greenstriped grasshopper, Henry's marsh moth, Mallota bautias, Mayslake, mink, Orchelimum nigripes, plains garter snake, scissor-grinder cicada, Simyra henrici, Tibicen pruinosa
by Carl Strang
Now that we are getting autumnal weather, it’s a good moment to look back at the summer just past, and at the current hints of what is coming. Here are photos from the past month at Mayslake Forest Preserve.
This dorsal view of a black-legged meadow katydid doesn’t show off his colors, but as he pauses between songs we can see the sound-production structures in the bases of his wings.
Usually I’m good at spotting bee mimics, but this large syrphid fly had me calling it a common eastern bumblebee for several seconds before I realized my error.
According to BugGuide, “larvae are deposit filter-feeders in water-filled tree holes,” which explains why Mallota bautias don’t turn up very often.
When I spotted the scissor-grinder cicada on the horizontal branch I took advantage of the opportunity for an unobstructed telephoto. Only when I was cropping the picture in the computer did I notice the second individual on the vertical branch.
So much for summer. Now for hints of the season to come.
This brown, probably male, nymph is a greenstriped grasshopper, the species that will kick off the singing insect season next spring. They get started early because they overwinter in this form rather than in eggs as do most of the species singing now.
This Henry’s marsh moth caterpillar was clambering over the tangled stems of a reed canary grass patch, probably seeking a pupation spot for its winter hibernation.
These mink scats, freshly deposited on a path near the stream, are the first sign of that species I have seen in a while. Perhaps this mink will center its winter activities around Mayslake’s wetlands.
Reptiles and amphibians are moving toward their hibernacula. Recently I spotted a garter snake that looked different from the usual Chicago version of the eastern garter snake.
It was paler around the head and neck.
The side stripe is on scale rows 3 and 4, and other details support the identification of plains garter snake, a new species for the Mayslake list.