Mayslake Catch-up

by Carl Strang

Now that we are getting autumnal weather, it’s a good moment to look back at the summer just past, and at the current hints of what is coming. Here are photos from the past month at Mayslake Forest Preserve.

This dorsal view of a black-legged meadow katydid doesn’t show off his colors, but as he pauses between songs we can see the sound-production structures in the bases of his wings.

This dorsal view of a black-legged meadow katydid doesn’t show off his colors, but as he pauses between songs we can see the sound-production structures in the bases of his wings.

Usually I’m good at spotting bee mimics, but this large syrphid fly had me calling it a common eastern bumblebee for several seconds before I realized my error.

Usually I’m good at spotting bee mimics, but this large syrphid fly had me calling it a common eastern bumblebee for several seconds before I realized my error.

According to BugGuide, “larvae are deposit filter-feeders in water-filled tree holes,” which explains why Mallota bautias don’t turn up very often.

When I spotted the scissor-grinder cicada on the horizontal branch I took advantage of the opportunity for an unobstructed telephoto. Only when I was cropping the picture in the computer did I notice the second individual on the vertical branch.

When I spotted the scissor-grinder cicada on the horizontal branch I took advantage of the opportunity for an unobstructed telephoto. Only when I was cropping the picture in the computer did I notice the second individual on the vertical branch.

So much for summer. Now for hints of the season to come.

This brown, probably male, nymph is a greenstriped grasshopper, the species that will kick off the singing insect season next spring. They get started early because they overwinter in this form rather than in eggs as do most of the species singing now.

This brown, probably male, nymph is a greenstriped grasshopper, the species that will kick off the singing insect season next spring. They get started early because they overwinter in this form rather than in eggs as do most of the species singing now.

This Henry’s marsh moth caterpillar was clambering over the tangled stems of a reed canary grass patch, probably seeking a pupation spot for its winter hibernation.

This Henry’s marsh moth caterpillar was clambering over the tangled stems of a reed canary grass patch, probably seeking a pupation spot for its winter hibernation.

These mink scats, freshly deposited on a path near the stream, are the first sign of that species I have seen in a while. Perhaps this mink will center its winter activities around Mayslake’s wetlands.

These mink scats, freshly deposited on a path near the stream, are the first sign of that species I have seen in a while. Perhaps this mink will center its winter activities around Mayslake’s wetlands.

Reptiles and amphibians are moving toward their hibernacula. Recently I spotted a garter snake that looked different from the usual Chicago version of the eastern garter snake.

It was paler around the head and neck.

It was paler around the head and neck.

The side stripe is on scale rows 3 and 4, and other details support the identification of plains garter snake, a new species for the Mayslake list.

The side stripe is on scale rows 3 and 4, and other details support the identification of plains garter snake, a new species for the Mayslake list.

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Bioblitz Incidentals

by Carl Strang

While my main focus at the Kankakee Sands bioblitz was on observing singing insects, I also was noting other species along the way, and was interested in others’ observations of singing insects. Someone in the Purdue entomology group collected a female bush katydid, for example.

The ovipositor marks it as female, the wing proportions and head shape place it among the bush katydids (genus Scudderia).

Female bush katydids are tricky, but I’m pretty confident that this is a Texas bush katydid. The sharp bend in the ovipositor, especially the inward or upper edge, narrows it down to a very few species. A broad-winged bush katydid would have broader wings, and a fork-tailed bush katydid would have a reddish-brown rather than green ovipositor. The colors and shapes of other structures around the ovipositor, and the shape of the ovipositor itself, match those of the Texas bush katydid, which is a common species of prairies like the one where this insect was collected. I didn’t hear any singing, but in DuPage County these tend to start up later in the season.

I saw a number of little yellow butterflies that had the markings of sulphurs but were unfamiliar to me.

The little sulphur is a species associated with sandy soils, and so unlikely to turn up in my familiar DuPage County haunts.

A milkweed leaf beetle turned up in a sweep sample in one of the prairie areas.

Like so many other milkweed feeders, this species has colors of black and orange.

Alyssa noted that I had picked up a hitchhiker at one point.

This proved to be Henry’s marsh moth, a noctuid of wetlands with a broad larval diet.

One of our nets caught an impressive jumping spider.

It was a big one, marked by a white stripe across the abdomen.

Finally, I photographed a grasshopper nymph that I thought might belong to a stridulating species, but I think it is in the wrong group.

I heard a grasshopper stridulating, but never saw it, and was only guessing here.

Grasshoppers are a group I usually will need to collect for identification.

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