Bendix Woods Bioblitz

by Carl Strang

It’s been an unusually busy September, and there has been no time for writing in recent days. Much of that time has been occupied by field work, however, so I have a backlog of observations to share through a number of posts. Last weekend there was a bioblitz at Bendix Woods, a St. Joseph County Park in Indiana. Many of the scientists who participated in this species count could do it as a day trip. A few of us camped overnight. It was well worth it, and three posts will be needed to tell the full story.

I was there for singing insects, of course, and so needed to do survey work after dark as well as during the day. The nighttime drive along the park’s roads revealed a healthy population of oblong-winged katydids.

This one took a break from singing to seek out a new perch, his long legs moving slowly in the cooling night air.

This one took a break from singing to seek out a new perch, his long legs moving slowly in the cooling night air.

While trying to locate the katydid I ran across a couple other members of the Bendix fauna.

Gray treefrogs are abundant at Bendix Woods. I saw at least 8 individuals during the 24-hour event.

Gray treefrogs are abundant at Bendix Woods. I saw at least 8 individuals during the 24-hour event.

This female walking stick, Diapheromera femorata, was nearly 4 inches long.

This female walking stick, Diapheromera femorata, was nearly 4 inches long.

Lights set up by a Field Museum of Natural History team drew in a variety of moths, caddis flies and others.

This was a crane fly that got hung up on a support rope, not a hangingfly, as some of us hoped at first glance. The hangingflies are a group of scorpion flies.

This was a crane fly that got hung up on a support rope, not a hangingfly, as some of us hoped at first glance. The hangingflies are a group of scorpion flies.

 

This pine tree spur-throated grasshopper came to the light, and I saved it to photograph the next day. The species proved to be common in the groves of white pines which have been planted in the park to spell out “STUDEBAKER” in very large block letters that can be read only from the sky.

This pine tree spur-throated grasshopper came to the light, and I saved it to photograph the next day. The species proved to be common in the groves of white pines which have been planted in the park to spell out “STUDEBAKER” in very large block letters that can be read only from the sky.

 

I’ll close out with another, more widespread species, the differential grasshopper.

I’ll close out with another, more widespread species, the differential grasshopper.

There were two singing insect species that I met for the first time at Bendix Woods, and each will get a post of its own.

Walking Stick

by Carl Strang

As the singing insect field season winds down, I am pursuing the last of this year’s goals. One of these was to seek out tinkling ground crickets in southern Will County. I was successful in that, as described earlier. With that experience in mind, I went to one of the places in DuPage County most likely to have that species, the bluff woodlands of Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve. I rode my bike slowly around the 9-mile trail that runs through the preserve, taking several side trips onto service drives, with ears open. I did hear one probable tinkling ground cricket, and since have heard another in another location, but given the possible distortions of the cooler weather and the late season I will consider these tentative and try to confirm them next year.

Aside from that, and from adding a few singing insects to my species list for that preserve, the highlight came when I spotted a walking stick crossing the trail.

This is a male Diapheromera femorata, North America’s most common walking stick species.

I have seen only a few of these in DuPage County. Usually they are well up in the tree canopies. I would have missed this one if I had been riding at my normal workout speed. Impressively camouflaged, this insect not only has a stick-shaped body and legs, but the brown body and mottled femora contrast with green tibia. Quite the striking critter. I was reminded of one of my few other DuPage sightings.

The bird is a red-eyed vireo, which has caught a walking stick and is trying to figure out how to eat it.

This was a few years ago at Fullersburg Woods. The proportions and size of the prey are comparable to the one I found at Waterfall. Walking sticks are leaf-eating relatives of the katydids, crickets and grasshoppers though they have been removed to a separate, closely allied order, the Phasmida.

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