One Last Look Back

by Carl Strang

My recent blog posts have shared highlights of this year’s field season, as I searched for singing insects in the 22-county area I define as the Chicago region. Those accounts haven’t told the whole story, though, and I have a few last photos to shake out of the bag. These fill out some of the experience of doing this kind of regional study.

For instance, other animals have enhanced the delight.

The chalk-fronted corporal is a dragonfly I have encountered only in the northern portion of the region, in this case at the Lulu Lake Nature Preserve in northern Walworth County, Wisconsin.

Walsh’s grasshopper was a new one for me. Not a singing species, but an interesting find at the Poverty Prairie in DuPage County’s Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve.

Turkey vultures assemble at dusk on the Culver, Indiana, water tower. My travels take me back to my home town a few times each season.

Interesting and beautiful scenes are to be found in the relatively undisturbed wild areas which are my main destinations.

An early evening rainbow at Conrad Station in the Indiana Kankakee Sands presaged a thunderstorm-dodging drive home on July 2.

Pinholes between tree leaves cast solar eclipse shadows at Blackwell Forest Preserve. Though the moon covered around 90% of the sun at peak, I detected no change in singing insect activity.

One of the more beautiful scenes was this panne in the Indiana dunes.

I had hoped to find delicate meadow katydids in the pannes. Dusky-faced meadow katydids were a good find there, but that species has a solid hold in other dunes wetlands.

The Pembroke Savanna in the Illinois Kankakee Sands is one of my favorite sites.

I believe these white pines at Warren Dunes State Park in Berrien County, Michigan, are the same ones where Richard Alexander found treetop bush katydids in 1971. He described the trees as small, but all are tall now. They still foster pine tree crickets, but I did not find any bush katydids.

I ended up with 115 county records for the season, totaling all newly found singing insect species over all the counties.

So far, I have found sprinkled grasshoppers only in oak savannas on sand soils.

Dusky-faced meadow katydids at the Indiana Kankakee Sands were a Newton County record.

This curve-tailed bush katydid at the Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area in Indiana provided a Jasper County record for my study.

I found a healthy population of long-tailed meadow katydids, including this brown-legged male, at Ferson Creek Fen in Kane County.

The Ferson Creek population also had green-legged variants, including this female.

Lisa Rainsong, Wendy Partridge and I drove south to Loda Prairie to check out the bush cicadas there. I concluded this year that the species does not occur in the Chicago region.

This Texas bush katydid was singing in early October at Springbrook Prairie Forest Preserve, DuPage County. I had an observation of this species on October 17, my latest ever in the region.

Most of the long winter remains, and as I compile data, write reports, and visit museums, I will be looking forward to another collection of rich experiences as I resume my field study in 2018.



  1. steve fluetty said,

    December 14, 2017 at 9:17 am

    the Pembroke prairie area is the habitat for the Sprinkled Grasshopper ? this will give me while birding, something to look for.

    • natureinquiries said,

      December 15, 2017 at 7:05 am

      I have seen the species in the savanna there, but not the prairie per se.

  2. artisanbakery said,

    December 14, 2017 at 9:26 am

    I enjoy reading your posts so much. Thank you for sharing your love of the outdoors and nature. I learn something with each new post I read.

    • natureinquiries said,

      December 15, 2017 at 7:07 am

      That’s very kind, thank you. I don’t care to repeat information, so I don’t post as often as I once did.

  3. December 19, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    Hello Carl,

    Great stories and photos as always! I have seen bush cicadas sporadically in tallgrass prairie in about the southern third of Iowa (I have also observed them in tallgrass prairie in southwest Missouri and the Flint Hills of Kansas). They can occur in good quality prairie or pretty disturbed prairie even where a fair number of red cedars have invaded. The bush cicada can be very wary and so hard to catch. They are also very loud! I suspect the bush cicada is doing OK in Iowa, but the species is certainly not common here.

    Mark J. Leoschke
    Des Moines, Iowa

    • natureinquiries said,

      December 20, 2017 at 7:27 am

      Thanks, Mark,
      An ornithologist who does bird population monitoring for the state of Illinois has a side interest in prairie-dwelling cicadas, and he has noted a number of bush cicada populations across the state. None are in my survey region, sad to say.

  4. December 19, 2017 at 6:14 pm

    Hello Carl,

    According to the paper in the link below there are records for Tibicen dorsatus from the northern 2/3 of Iowa too:

    Figure 23. Distribution of Tibicen dorsatus (green circles). Page 194


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