Oops! Etc. at Midewin

by Carl Strang

A couple years ago I came across a population of large band-winged grasshoppers with bright red hind wings, at St. Joseph County’s (Indiana) Bendix Woods. Focusing on the intense red color, I declared them to be northwestern red-winged grasshoppers. In the first half of August this year I ran into a second population in Illinois, at the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.

They had the same bright red color as at Bendix Woods.

They had the same bright red color as at Bendix Woods.

These are large grasshoppers, approaching Carolina grasshoppers in bulk.

These are large grasshoppers, approaching Carolina grasshoppers in bulk.

This time, though, I noticed a discrepancy in my ID that should have struck me the first time.

There is a honkin’ big bulge on the top of the pronotum.

There is a honkin’ big bulge on the top of the pronotum.

The northwestern red-winged grasshopper, which I now realize I have yet to meet, has a flat pronotum profile that furthermore is cleft by a significant fissure. These prove to be autumn yellow-winged grasshoppers, which in fact can have a range of colors in the hindwings. The following week, returning with fellow singing insect enthusiasts Lisa Rainsong and Wendy Partridge from Cleveland, and Wil Hershberger from West Virginia, we found many of these grasshoppers in fact have bright yellow wings. I need to get back there and get a photo of one for my singing insects guide.

While checking out the grasshoppers, we turned up two other species that were county records for my study.

The handsome grasshopper always is a delight. This one is a male.

The handsome grasshopper always is a delight. This one is a male.

Female handsome grasshoppers have green highlights in place of the male’s brown ones.

Female handsome grasshoppers have green highlights in place of the male’s brown ones.

Though still a nymph, this female is unambiguously a straight-lanced meadow katydid. The extra-long ovipositor and the diffuse-edged black band on the hind femur are giveaways.

Though still a nymph, this female is unambiguously a straight-lanced meadow katydid. The extra-long ovipositor and the diffuse-edged black band on the hind femur are giveaways.

Our main target in that visit was the dusky-faced meadow katydid, but that proves to be a much more complicated story deserving of its own blog post.

 

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