Last Friday night, I led a nighttime singing insect walk at Buzzard Roost Preserve in Chillicothe. This is a fabulous natural area, sporting some 1,200 acres of varied habitats. We always see interesting things here, and this walk started out with a bang. As I neared the preserve, I began to notice hundreds - thousands, probably - of Common Green Darner dragonflies in a massive feeding swarm along Polk Hollow Road. When I arrived at the parking lot, above, there were dozens of darners hunting here, too. This has apparently been an exceptional late summer for migrant dragonfly hordes.
Anyway, our primary purpose was to learn about the Orthopterans - the primary group of "singing" insects. We saw some and heard hundreds, representing many species. This is a female meadow katydid; note her long sword-like ovipositor. We heard several species of meadow katydids, and their relatives the Greater and Lesser Anglewings, Common True Katytdid, and Round-tipped Conehead, among others.
This is a tree cricket, perhaps a Two-spotted Tree Cricket. We heard those, as well as Broad-winged and Davis's Tree Crickets, and several other types of crickets.
Lots of other cool stuff of the night popped up, including this walking-stick, a true master of camouflage. This one was about four inches long, and they look all the world like twigs.
Caterpillars really come to life under cover of darkness, as the birds, parasitoid flies and wasps, and other predators have retired for the day. These are Fall Webworms defoliating a Black Walnut tree.
But here was the real surprise - a true bonus. One of our sharp-eyed participants spotted this Rough Greensnake vining its way through a thicket of grapes.
Greensnakes are most active at night, and they aren't easy to spot in the shrubbery. They are mostly arboreal, gracefully slithering through the foliage seeking insects and other prey.