Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Singing insects

I've been down in Shawnee State Forest for a bit, and will be down here for a bit more. If you've e-mailed me of late, and I've been absentee in the answer department, it's because I've not been around long enough to report back in any timely sort of way. Sorry about that but we'll catch up sometime soon.

Wil Hershberger and his wife Donna were down here over the weekend, and I got to spend all yesterday with them. Wil is co-author of the watershed book The Songs of Insects, along with Lang Elliot. You've got to check it out. Spending a day with the Hershbergers was a huge learning experience of all things Orthopteran, and below I'll share a few of the many singing bugs that we found yesterday.

Fork-tailed Bush Katydid, Scudderia furcata. The giant green beast sits on Wil's hand, and is happily rasping the flesh from his finger. Really. These things pretty much try to eat whatever it is they are sitting on or near. Usually it'll be plant matter, but it seemed to like our salty skin, too.

Gladiator Meadow Katydid, Orchelimum gladiator. Meadow katydids resemble grasshoppers, but have extremely long antennae, and much more sophisticated songs.

Lesser Anglewing, Microcentrum retinerve. A leaf mimic, these katydids are large and common. They're probably in big trees in your yard. They make a raspy rapid scraping call that carries some distance.

Long-spurred Meadow Katydid, Orchelimum silvaticum. This one is grooming its feet and antennae like a cat. They are fastidious about cleaning, as much of their sensory apparatus is contained in the feet and antennae.

Restless Bush Crickets, Hapithus agitator, female on left, male on right. Individuals in northern populations are not known to sing, but obviously they do find each other.

Round-tipped Conehead, Neoconocephalus retusus. Many coneheads, this one included, make incredibly loud crackling buzzes that go on and on. The shape of their head reminds me of a Mako Shark.

Short-winged Meadow Katydid, Conocephalus brevipennis. This is a female with that incredibly long sword-like ovipositor, used to inject eggs into plant tissue.

Striped Ground Cricket, Allonemobius fasciatus. Impossibly tiny, maybe an eighth of an inch long, they are common in mowed lawns.

Treetop Bush Katydid, Scudderia fasciata. We were fortunate this one was down at our level.

Common Meadow Katydid, Orchelimum vulgare. Despite the name, they aren't that common, at least in these parts.



Jana said...

You found quite a chorus of singing insects.Thanks for posting their portraits.

HeronGirl said...

Great stuff Jim!

Wil said...

Jim, It was a lot of fun to be with you and the group. It is great to have a bunch of people that are so interested in learning the songs and calls of these marvelous songsters.
We certainly had a wonderful assortment of species in the park. Shawnee is now on my list of favorite places.
Thanks again,
Wil and Donna

trumbullbirder said...

Hey Jim, great post! Were all of these recorded in Scioto County? I'm still maintaining county lists...

Jim McCormac said...

Thanks all for your comments, an Wil, it was a true pleasure to get out in the field with you.

Yep, those are all Scioto County observations, Ethan. Not sure what your criteria is for adding a species, but we saw far more Orthopterans than what are in this post. Didn't get photos of them all, though.