Summer Survey 2019

The BugLady hopes that you’ve been getting out on the trail and drinking in the lushness of the summer. Subjects of this summer’s survey include wasps, aphids, syrphids, and katydids.

Way Out on the Lonesome Prairie

Lately, The BugLady’s been thinking about prairies. She led a walk at Riveredge Nature Center’s excellent “Knee Deep in Prairies” celebration, and she spends a lot of quality time on the prairie because she loves its ever-changing palettes and patterns. By some estimates, the biomass of the insects on pre-settlement American prairies equaled that of the bison. Here are some pollinators and predators and plant feeders of the prairie – and the flowers they visit.

Protean Shield-backed Katydid (Family Tettigoniidae)

Protean Shield-backed Katydids evoke adjectives like “earthy” and “organic,” and “elemental” (along with “lunker”). This utilitarian katydid looks like it saw the dinosaurs, and maybe it did. Katydids (family Tettigoniidae, subfamily Tettigoniinae) are in the order Orthoptera (“straight wings”) (grasshoppers, crickets, et al). Orthoperans survived the meteor strike 65 million years ago; dinosaurs did not. There are 123 species in North America, and they are a mostly-Western bunch, with about 10 species in the East.

Seasonal Sights and Sounds

Everywhere you look, you see adult insects, young insects, and the kinds of activity that will result in them. Here are some sights from the BugLady’s walks in southeastern Wisconsin.

Midsummer Report

The BugLady would like to dedicate this episode to the late (great) Cornell Professor Richard B. Fischer (January 19, 1919 – August 7, 2005) who taught the BugLady how to sneak up on insects (no bobbing or weaving, just slow and steady and straight ahead.

Katydid Rerun (Family Tettigoniidae)

Katydids are large, beautiful, green insects of grasslands, open woods and edges whose often ventriloquistic calls can be heard both day and night (brown and pink morphs also exist). Katydids are classified in the order Orthoptera (straight wings) and in the family Tettigoniidae, the Long-horned Grasshoppers and Katydids.

Roesel’s Katydid (Family Tettigoniidae)

Roesel’s Katydid (Metrioptera roeselii) is in the Katydid family Tettigoniidae) and in the Shield-backed katydid subfamily Tettigoniinae. Shield-backed katydids are called bush-crickets in their native Europe, where, because of their penchant for biting when handled. Their habitat is generally described as un-grazed fields/field borders/road edges/etc. with taller grass (in other words, not active cropland).

Katydids (Family Tettigoniidae)

Most Katydids nosh on vegetation, but some species are predaceous on other insects, and cannibalism is not unknown. Being large, abundant, harmless and tasty, they are an important food for birds, including owls and kestrels, for rodents, and for other invertebrates.

Black-legged Meadow Katydid (Family Tettigonidae)

Black-legged Meadow Katydid are residents of grasslands and gardens, preferably damp ones. BlMKs overwinter as eggs that are laid in the soil or in plant stems and that hatch in late spring. It’s identified by the face and eyes, plus a bluish-green body, wings longer than its abdomen, and colorful legs—with yellow on its front four and black on its hind two.

Tettigoniidae, Two (Family Tettigoniidae)

In this episode we meet three long-horned grasshoppers; Meadow Katydids, Shieldbacked Katydids, and Coneheaded Katydids.