October 7, 2015 at 6:47 am (Uncategorized)
Tags: black-legged meadow katydid, Ilex verticillata, Lythrum salicaria, Orchelimum nigripes, Phalaris arundinacea, purple loosestrife, reed canary grass, Spicer Lake, winterberry
by Carl Strang
Spicer Lake is a St. Joseph County (Indiana) park and nature preserve close to the triple border of two Indiana counties and Michigan. It is not far from Springfield Fen, so after thanking Scott last week I headed up there to prospect for singing insects. Those proved to be relatively common species, but it was a beautiful site well worth visiting.
One feature is an extensive flooded swamp fringing Spicer Lake. The photo shows native species, but reed canary grass and purple loosestrife sadly are well established.
Winterberry hollies provided delightful spots of color.
The most common singing insect along the boardwalk was the black-legged meadow katydid.
I especially liked the translucent backlit wings of this singing male.
That visit closed the book on my out-of-state singing insect excursions for the year.
September 25, 2013 at 6:19 am (ecology, restoration, singing insects)
Tags: black-legged meadow katydid, Bluff Creek, Carolina ground cricket, common cattail, common reed, Conocephalus attenuatus, Conocephalus brevipennis, delicate meadow katydid, dusky-faced meadow katydid, Eunemobius carolinus, Eunemobius melodius, fen, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Lake Maxinkuckee, long-tailed meadow katydid, Lythrum salicaria, melodious ground cricket, Miller Woods, Neocurtilla hexadactyla, nimble meadow katydid, northern mole cricket, Orchelimum campestre, Orchelimum delicatum, Orchelimum nigripes, Orchelimum volantum, Phalaris arundinacea, Phragmites communis, purple loosestrife, reed canary grass, Richard Young Forest Preserve, short-winged meadow katydid, swale, Typha latifolia, Waterfall Glen
by Carl Strang
A continuing theme in my regional survey of singing insects is the paucity of wetland species. The only one that is present in good numbers in many wetlands is the black-legged meadow katydid. Other species common in wetlands are habitat generalists such as the Carolina ground cricket and short-winged meadow katydid, which don’t truly count as wetland insects. One clear cause of this problem is the loss of high quality habitat to four invasive plant species (purple loosestrife, reed canary grass, common reed, and cattails). All four are capable of completely taking over a wetland, and examples of this can be found for all four. Small numbers of the singing insects mentioned above can be found in such places, but not the other wetland insect species.
This female long-tailed meadow katydid was a rare wetland species holdout in a small pocket of surviving diverse wetland plants surrounded by cattails, reed canary grass and common reed at Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve in DuPage County, Illinois.
On the other hand, there are some good wetlands out there. Many are small, and this along with their isolation may limit them.
This beautiful little fen at Richard Young Forest Preserve in Kendall County is completely surrounded by woodland.
Many of the interdune swales at Miller Woods in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore have been taken over by the common reed. This one was an exception, but I found only black-legs there.
This fen-like wetland at Bluff Creek in Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine State Forest looks very good. I will want to check it earlier in the season next year.
Still, I have not given up hope. I found a third good population of mole crickets this year, in a swale at Miller Woods.
Mole cricket tunnels look like miniature mole tunnels. They occur around wetland edges, and occasionally have holes to let out the males’ deep chirping calls, and to provide access for attracted females.
I also found melodious ground crickets at two new sites in Berrien County, Michigan. Though I did not find dusky-faced or delicate meadow katydids at the Indiana Dunes’ Great Marsh this year, I felt curiously encouraged by this.
Both species were there last year, but with the water level higher in 2013, the vegetation was arranged differently and I did not find them in the same place.
Maybe the populations of many wetland species took a hit in last year’s drought, and were thinly dispersed in the expanded wet areas of 2013. This is, after all, the first year in which I have surveyed many of these sites. If they need a couple years to recover from the drought, maybe I will find the missing species in the future. Still, how to account for the lack of nimble meadow katydids? This species I have yet to find, anywhere. In the heart of the singing insect season I took my sea kayak into an area where they historically were known.
The channels at the south end of Lake Maxinkuckee in Marshall County, Indiana, have become heavily invaded by purple loosestrife.
Even the patches of emergent water-dwelling knotweeds, a habitat specifically mentioned in some sources as good for nimble meadow katydids, had none as far as I could tell.
So the bottom line is a disappointing season for wetland species, with a few positive points and hope in the possibility that populations are at a low point from which they will recover.
August 6, 2013 at 6:01 am (singing insects)
Tags: Amblycorypha rotundifolia, bog, Glacial Park, Kendall County, lyric cicada, McHenry County, Moraine Hills State Park, Nebraska conehead, Neoconocephalus nebrascensis, Phalaris arundinacea, rattler round-winged katydid, reed canary grass, sphagnum moss, Tibicen lyricen
by Carl Strang
On Saturday I traveled north to McHenry County, Illinois, to continue my regional survey of singing insects. That county is blessed with some impressive sites, and I was able to cover only parts of two of them. Moraine Hills State Park has a wide range of representative habitats covering large acreages.
Wetlands in particular dominate the landscape.
Much of the park is spanned by a network of bike paths, and my next survey trip there will involve my bike. I also paid a visit to a McHenry County Conservation District property, Glacial Park.
When I think of Glacial Park I think of glorious vistas.
There are savannas, restored prairie, and wetlands of varied quality.
This marsh looks very good, at least around the edges.
The bog so far is holding its own against a fringing ring of reed canary grass.
The bog is rich in sphagnum moss, but was quiet on Saturday, so I hope to find sphagnum ground crickets singing when I return in a month or so.
The species count for McHenry County totaled 16, the list mainly overlapping that for Kendall County from the previous day. The differences were interesting, though. Where the day at Kendall was dominated by omnipresent choruses of lyric cicadas, I did not hear a single member of that species in McHenry. At some point I will follow a couple rivers north and south to find the current range limit for that species, which is common in DuPage County not far south of McHenry.
The McHenry woodlands had rattler round-wing katydids, which I did not find in Kendall County, but the latter had Nebraska coneheads which I did not find in McHenry County. I need to find a drier, more open woodland in Kendall County, but the Nebraska conehead likely is a species which, like the lyric cicada, has its northern range limit somewhere between those two counties.
August 18, 2011 at 5:48 am (singing insects)
Tags: Anaxipha exigua, black-legged meadow katydid, black-sided meadow katydid, Blackwell, Conocephalus attenuatus, Conocephalus brevipennis, Conocephalus nigropleurum, long-tailed meadow katydid, McKee Marsh, Neoconocephalus retusus, Orchelimum nigripes, Phalaris arundinacea, reed canary grass, round-tipped conehead, Say's trig, short-winged meadow katydid, Winfield Mounds
by Carl Strang
The middle of August through September is the peak singing insect season, and on Tuesday I took the first of a scattered series of vacation days to work on a long checklist of targets. I started with searches of the McKee Marsh edge at Blackwell Forest Preserve, and the area around the bridge over the West Branch of the DuPage River at Winfield Mounds Forest Preserve. My main targets were long-tailed and black-sided meadow katydids. I first found those two species in the county last year, and went to these likely locations in hope of finding more. At Blackwell I found mainly black-legged and short-winged meadow katydids, our two most common species in their respective genera. I also saw a few conehead nymphs like this.
Only about an inch long, and lacking wings, these will have to grow fast to complete their development this season. I suspect they are round-tipped coneheads.
After considerable wading through vegetation depressingly dominated by reed canary grass, I finally spotted a female long-tailed meadow katydid. She did not provide a photo op, but I did post some photos last year from another location.
The Winfield Mounds bridge was on the list thanks to my meeting a photographer who had placed a photo of a black-sided meadow katydid on his website. He said he took the picture at the bridge. Again I found a lot of reed canary grass, but dutifully waded in. Again, plenty of black-legs and short-wingeds, but there were scattered others including a female Say’s trig who hopped onto my net.
I didn’t realize how big the females can get, and how they can have long wing extensions reminiscent of a two-spotted tree cricket’s, until I met this individual. She was a good centimeter long.
Shortly after photographing the trig I spotted a black-sided meadow katydid, and so they indeed persist in that area.
June 9, 2011 at 9:06 pm (botany)
Tags: Dactylis glomerata, great bulrush, Kentucky bluegrass, Mayslake, orchard grass, Phalaris arundinacea, Poa pratensis, reed canary grass, Scirpus validus
by Carl Strang
Grasses are starting to flower at Mayslake Forest Preserve, and so I am expanding my study of such plants beyond the sedges. After the meadow foxtail I mentioned earlier, the next species was the abundant Kentucky bluegrass.
This European grass occurs not only in Mayslake’s lawns and trails, but also in meadows and even the savannas.
Orchard grass soon followed.
The clumps of flower clusters are distinctive in this species, which typically occurs in somewhat shady places.
Last week, reed canary grass, also European but much less welcome because of its aggressive invasive quality, began to bloom.
A study found that strains of this grass brought to North America from different locations in Europe have hybridized to produce its problematic vigor.
It’s not all grasses, however. I continue to watch for new sedges, and also found this clump of a large bulrush at the edge of the stream.
The plant is taking advantage of a sunny stretch from which the woody brush has been removed by Mayslake’s restoration group.
I needed to wait for flowering. It appears to be the great bulrush.
As in the sedges and grasses, flowers of the bulrush are organized into units called spikelets.
As long as these plants bloom in a trickle I’ll be able to keep up, but I’m concerned that there may be a flood of species soon.
September 17, 2010 at 6:22 am (botany, dragonflies and damselflies, restoration, singing insects)
Tags: black-legged meadow katydid, black-sided meadow katydid, Conocephalus attenuatus, Conocephalus brevipennis, Conocephalus nigropleurum, Conocephalus strictus, dolomite prairie, Hines emerald, long-tailed meadow katydid, Orchelimum nigripes, Phalaris arundinacea, reed canary grass, short-winged meadow katydid, Somatochlora hineana, straight-lanced meadow katydid, Waterfall Glen
by Carl Strang
I needed to return to the dolomite prairie at Waterfall Glen as part of my targeted singing insects search. This had been my dragonfly monitoring area until I switched to surveying the nearby Des Plaines River by kayak, and I hadn’t been in the dolomite prairie for two seasons.
This is a unique environment, arguably the rarest in the county, as it is a prairie growing in a thin soil layer that has developed atop a shelf of Silurian dolomite bedrock in the few thousands of years since the last continental glacier melted away. In my dragonfly monitoring there I had seen federally endangered Hines emeralds hunting a few times. This prairie is not established as a Hines breeding area, though they are known to reproduce nearby. As I walked through the drier part of the prairie depicted above, I noticed some meadow katydids, including this female straight-lanced.
My particular interest, though, was a small area of tall sedges and grasses in the wetter east end of the prairie.
This is where I took the photograph of the female katydid nymph I shared a couple posts ago, the brown one that might have been a black-sided, might have been a long-tailed. Almost immediately as I entered the area I began to see a few black-sided meadow katydids, including this female.
But that wasn’t all. In addition to one of the highest densities of black-legged meadow katydids I’ve ever encountered, I also began to see all-brown individuals including this female.
This was almost certainly a long-tailed meadow katydid. According to one paper I’d read, as of 1983 at least there were no known places where black-sided and long-tailed meadow katydids occurred together. I don’t know whether that has changed in the quarter-century since that publication appeared, but if not then this could well be the first documentation of such a co-occurrence. Considering the potential significance of this find, I went ahead and collected one of the all-brown males, while taking close looks at others like this one.
It proved indeed to be a long-tailed meadow katydid. As I sampled the area with my sweep net I also turned up some colorful individuals like this one.
It has a brown body, and in fact except for the green legs is much like the all brown long-taileds. I was tempted to regard these as variants of the short-winged meadow katydid, a much more common species, because some of them had very bright yellow abdomen tips.
In the end, though, I had to conclude that this was a population of long-tailed meadow katydids with both brown-legged and green-legged individuals. Photos supported the structure of the green-legs’ cerci being closer to long-taileds’ than to short-wingeds’, and while in the literature I could find some references to long-taileds with green legs I could find no mention of short-wingeds with brown bodies.
Thus this small area at the east end of the dolomite prairie, which also is the only part of the whole site where I have seen Hines emeralds hunting, proves to have considerable scientific value. Unfortunately it may be on the verge of being lost. It is smaller than it was even two summers ago, as reed canary grass is invading and displacing the tall sedges and native grasses. I don’t know if anything can be done about this. Herbiciding the reed canary grass probably would also do in the native species, and as I understand it there are no other options. I have to hope the Hines’ can hunt elsewhere, and that these meadow katydid populations will be able to hang on in the marginal habitat with which they will be left if the trend continues.