Skip to main content

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.
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.


Popular posts from this blog

The Pinching Beetle, a rather brutish looking bug

The world is awash in beetles, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Few of them can match the intimidation factor of a Pinching Beetle, Lucanus capreolus, though. Those formidable looking mandibles look like they could slice off a finger.

Today was one of those coolly diverse days. I started off down in Fayette County, visiting the farm of a friend. He has restored about 25 acres of wetlands, and the response by the animal community has been nothing short of phenomenal. Blizzards of dragonflies of many species, amphibians galore, and nesting Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, and Sora. Among MANY other things. And all in a short two years. Add water and they will come.

Then, working my way home, I ducked into a Madison County cemetery that has a thriving population of Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrels, and shot images of our native prairie dog. Then, I stopped at a spot along Little Darby Creek, waded on in, and procured some pretty nice shots of various stream bluets and dancers. …

Calliope Hummingbird in central Ohio!

A hatch-year male Calliope Hummingbird strikes a pose. Small but tough, the hummingbird was feeding actively yesterday in 39 F temperatures. It frequents feeders and gardens at a home in Delaware County, Ohio, about a half-hour north of Columbus.

Fortunately, the wayward hummer appeared at the home of Tania and Corey Perry. Tania is a birder, and knew right away that the hummingbird was something special. For a while, the identification was up in the air, which isn't surprising. The Calliope Hummingbird used to be placed in its own genus, Stellula, but has recently been submerged into the genus Selasphorus, which includes Allen's, Broad-tailed, and Rufous hummingbirds. The latter two, especially, are quite similar to the Calliope in subadult plumage. Rufous is the default "vagrant" hummingbird here, with dozens of records and birds turning up annually. There is but one Ohio record of Allen's Hummingbird, from late fall/early winter 2009. Ditto the Calliope Hummi…

Snowy owl photography tactics - and things NOT to do

A gorgeous juvenile female snowy owl briefly catches your narrator with its piercing gaze. It's doing its Linda Blair/Exorcist trick - twisting its head 180 degrees to look straight behind. Owls have 14 neck vertebrae - double our number - which allows them such flexibility.

These visitors from the high arctic have irrupted big time into Ohio and adjacent regions, with new birds coming to light nearly every day. Probably 80 or so have thus far been reported in the state, and some of them have stuck around favored spots and become local celebrities.

I went to visit one of these birds this morning - the animal above, which was found last Friday by Doug Overacker and Julie Karlson at C.J. Brown Reservoir near Springfield. In the four days since its discovery, many people have visited as is nearly always the case when one of these white wonders appears near a large population center or is otherwise very accessible.

And as is always the case, people want to photograph the owls. And th…