Saturday, August 25, 2007

They Only Come Out At Night...

A whole new world emerges after nightfall. Creatures that lay in hiding during the day emerge, and do their thing. I went out for an hour or so tonight to a local patch of woodland, mostly to hone my insect songs ID skills. And I heard plenty. Those that I felt pretty good about recognizing included: Texas Bush Katydid, Sword-bearing Conehead, Narrow-winged Tree Cricket, Fall Field Cricket, Carolina Ground Cricket, Broad-winged Tree Cricket, Snowy Tree Cricket, Common True Katydid, Greater Anglewing, Lesser Anglewing, and Oblong-winged Katydid. Thee were others, too.

Nighttime insects create an interesting symphony, and once your ears become somewhat attuned, more individual players than you might suspect make up the band. Birds no doubt drive this abundant nocturnal insect activity, at least in some part. After all, there are no insect-eating birds out after dark, and it's safe to come out if you are a bug. So not only do the seemingly harmless and sometimes melodic insects become active, so do many of their insect predators.

I also had my camera and flashlight along, and managed a few pics of various critters. I don't know what must of them are, and haven't yet had time to try and figure them out. Hopefully Ethan Kistler or Phil Chaon will clue me in if they have time.

This insect, which I believe may be a Texas Bush Katydid, was lurking about in a Wingstem plant.
The predators really come out at night. Just carefully inspect tree trunks, and you'll see. Harvestman (Daddy Long-legs) were hunting all over the place, as were many spiders.

This is some sort of funnel spider. He was wide awake and lurking at the entrance to his silken cave. If an insect happened into the web, it would dart out at lightning speed and it'd soon be all over for the hapless victim.
A closer look at the funnel web spider. I wouldn't want to tangle with it.

This spider was more mobile, apparently working leaf surfaces for prey.

One of the inchworms or loopers - a caterpillar of a Geometrid moth. It was dangling from a strand of silk. There were quite a few caterpillars out. Many are nocturnal, holing up for the day and emerging at night to feed on vegetation. After they ravage some leaves, most caterpillars move well away from the partially eaten leaves before daybreak and bird activity. It's thought that at least some species of birds can key in on caterpillar leaf cuttings, so it behooves the caterpillar to leave the area.

A big boy, this spider was building a web on my front porch. About the size of a half dollar, he very systematically constructed a beautifully concentric web to very exacting standards. Then, I'm sure it will catch many of the moths that are attracted to my porch light.


Anonymous said...

I can tell you for sure it is in the subfamily Phaneropterinae (False Katydids). It is a young female - which makes getting it to genus hard (alot relies on wing length/structure) and species impossible in some genera (alot relies on structure of male genetalia). That said - out of the the four genera found in Ohio of Phaneropterinae it is either Amblycorypha (Round-headed Katydids) or Scudderia (Scudder's Bush Katydids). Cool picture.

Phil Chaon

Anonymous said...

Looking at the size and shape of the ovipositor makes me say Scudderia. It could very well be a Texas Bush Katydid but there's no way on telling.