Closing the Book on Protean Shieldbacks

by Carl Strang

The protean shieldback is the most common native predaceous katydid in the Chicago region. Because of their broad diet, they can develop quickly in the spring. They begin singing in June, the males broadcasting their extended, high-pitched rattles in open woodlands, as well as prairies with at least a little woody vegetation.

Male protean shieldback in singing posture.

At first, they begin to sing in the late afternoon from hidden locations near the ground. When it becomes dark, they climb up onto open perches, often on woody stems. As their season progresses, they begin to sing later, until a few begin at dusk and most wait until dark.

This year I learned that they are more abundant than I had realized. I need the SongFinder, a pitch-lowering electronic device, to hear most of them. With that final lesson, I sought them out in portions of my 22-county Chicago region where I had not found them before. That mission was successful, the final 15 counties resulting in some late-night returns home. At this writing, they still are going strong.

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2 Comments

  1. July 13, 2017 at 6:55 am

    I’ve only just heard my first few cicadas this year. Love their song. 😊

  2. Lisa Rainsong said,

    July 13, 2017 at 11:29 am

    I hope to do that in NE Ohio, though it may take a few years. I think Least Shieldbacks are more common here. I found a couple singing in the late afternoon several years ago in two different parks (same county) but I need to listen as carefully as I can at night. Thank you, as always, for your post.


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