Small Wonders at Illinois Beach
September 1, 2016 at 6:18 am (plant-eating insects, singing insects)
Tags: Allonemobius griseus, cottonwood borer, gray ground cricket, Illinois Beach State Park, Kiowa rangeland grasshopper, Neoconocephalus robustus, Orchelimum concinnum, Plectrodera scalator, robust conehead, stripe-faced meadow katydid, Trachyrhachys kiowa
by Carl Strang
Two targets for my friends from Ohio and West Virginia were stripe-faced meadow katydids and gray ground crickets, both of which can be found at Illinois Beach State Park. The stripe-faceds proved to be in their early-stage colors.
Even this nymph has the facial stripe, but it is brown and relatively fuzzy-edged compared to what it ultimately will become. New adults have the same brown colors, even though they are mature enough to sing and to mate.
The nymphs and new adults were all in shades of tan and brown. We saw one or two adults which were beginning to develop their green body colors, and the more distinct facial features.
Gray ground crickets have been a challenge, and prior to this year I had gotten only a couple brief glimpses of them. This time I caught one, allowing us to take photos before releasing our subject back into the dunes.
The cricket was a female, probably made vulnerable by her moving about seeking a singing male.
Gray ground crickets are well named. I especially like the head stripes and the little dark rectangular markings on the wings.
We found other critters of interest along the way, of course.
Kiowa rangeland grasshoppers occupy the same ecological zone as the gray ground cricket.
Scattered cottonwood trees among the dunes were hosts for this striking beetle, a cottonwood borer.
The loudest nighttime insect singer was the robust conehead. We saw both brown and green males.