I've been smitten with the Orthoptera for the better part of a decade. I liked these insects - crickets, katydids, coneheads and their kin - even before that, but didn't make a real effort to learn about them. Then, one day about eight or nine years ago, a woman asked me what was making a metallic clicking sound in a shade tree outside her house. From her description, I recognized the sound as I had heard it too, but I was embarrassed to say that I did not know the causer of the clicks.
It didn't take much research to learn that the mystery clicker was a Greater Anglewing, which is a jumbo katydid and a consummate leaf mimic. I was hooked! From that point, I wanted to know the names of all of the six-legged singers that compose our late summer and autumn symphonies. If you are into birds, as I am, learning the insect songs is great practice for tuning the ear for bird song.
Now, I find myself giving lectures on Orthopteran insects, and taking people afield to learn more about them. Last Saturday night, I led such a gig over at Dawes Arboretum, and our field trip was beyond fantastic. It was as if the insects were jumping from the trees and shrubs into our hands. We got great looks at a number of species, and I would say that the Slightly Musical Conehead was the people's favorite.
The very next day, I was on another expedition, and we found the beauty pictured below. She totally manifests the abundant charisma that defines katydids...
Unless you're friends with Wil Hershberger. Wil literally wrote the book on singing insects, and I sent him these photos for his thoughts. He recognized the animal for what it was, and hence I got a positive identification.
We have another wonderful Orthopteran asset right here in Ohio, in the form of Lisa Rainsong. No one in this state knows the singing insects better than Lisa does, and she has started a wonderful blog devoted to our music-making bugs and Nature's other songsters. Check it out RIGHT HERE.