Kankakee Sands Bioblitz

by Carl Strang

For 24 hours on Friday and Saturday, over 100 field biologists convened at the Kankakee Sands area in Newton County, Indiana, for a bioblitz. The area includes Nature Conservancy prairie and savanna restoration sites and Indiana state nature preserves. The bioblitz, a concentrated effort to identify as many species of organisms as possible, was sponsored by the Nature Conservancy, Purdue University, The Indiana Academy of Science, and a consortium of Indiana colleges.

Check-in on Friday afternoon.

Though the bioblitz focuses on the central 24 hours, some advance work had been done.

For instance, a team of Purdue entomologists had begun collecting beetles the previous day.

My focus was singing insects. One of the Purdue students volunteered to assist me the first afternoon.

Alyssa Collins, a junior majoring in entomology, sports an entomological hitchhiker/hat.

Alyssa’s young ears were a huge help with some of the meadow katydids, which I cannot hear without an electronic aid.

For instance, she found this long-spurred meadow katydid, which proved to be a common species in the savannas.

I was prepared to collect extensively if necessary, but fortunately for my preferences we only needed to collect as we saw fit. I collected only 3 insects altogether. The long-spurred wasn’t one of them.

The song and habitat were sufficient for identification, but it doesn’t hurt to take advantage of photo opportunities. Here the male’s cerci show why this is named the long-spurred meadow katydid.

The timing was a little early for many of the singing insects. Meadow-dwelling tree crickets still were nymphs.

This one still is an instar or two short of maturity.

They generally were consistent with the black-horned/Forbes’s tree cricket species pair, but I will need to return in some future season to explore further.

Antennal spots which, if they hold to this arrangement after the final molt, will confirm my tentative ID.

We were able to spend some time in savanna and prairie areas.

Conrad Savanna, an Indiana state nature preserve.

Area L, one of the Nature Conservancy’s Kankakee Sands Efroymson Family Prairie Restorations.

In the next few posts I’ll share more from the bioblitz.

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