Black-legged Meadow Katydid singing in the sun at Frohing Meadows, Geauga Park District
Songs of Insects
Although the print version of this book is no longer available, Wil Hershberger and Lang Elliott have put the entire content online, including the songs. 75 species of crickets, katydids, and cicadas in the eastern US are included, as is a wealth of information from the insects’ biology, song structure, and singing behavior.
The original book and CD were my textbook for getting started with singing insects identification. I could differentiate between songs. I just didn’t know who was making them until this book was available. Now that it’s a website, I can look up species anywhere I have internet connection. I cannot overstate the importance of this book and the more recent web version.
Singing Insects of North America
Dr. Thomas J. Walker, professor emeritus, University of Florida
You can literally look up every cricket and katydid found in the US on this website. There are range maps, recordings, photos, and identification guides for distinguishing between species. As you explore links found on this site, you will find fascinating and very helpful information. I’d suggest starting with “How to Use SINA,” which you can find here: http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/Walker/buzz/index.htm#Howtouse
Oecanthinae: Tree Crickets
Identification of all our tree crickets. Identification guides, detailed information on their entire life cycle, behaviors, habitats, and more. This is a very useful resource about tree crickets by a self-identified citizen scientist who has far exceeded that description. I have Nancy Colins to thank for alerting me to the presence of both Black-horned and Forbes’s tree crickets in Ohio and that I’d posted a recording of a “Black-horned” that was actually a Forbes’s. I did not even know this look-alike species was present in Ohio, not to mention with here in NE Ohio! I have been studying where each species is found ever since.
I’ve written many blog posts on singing insects in my blog, Listening in Nature at http://listeninginnature.blogspot.com
Scroll down the right sidebar for a list of topics, then click on the one that’s of interest to you.
Chicago-area naturalist Carl Strang often writes about singing insects on his blog site, Nature Inquiries at https://natureinquiries.wordpress.com.
I’ve learned a great deal from Carl about singing insects, and also about how to study them within one’s own region. He’s doing an ongoing survey of a very extensive 22-county region from southeastern Wisconsin, through northeast Illinois and northwest Indiana to Berrien County, Michigan. He also is documenting range expansion of some of the crickets and katydids whose ranges are expanding in our area as well. On his blog, you can search for the insects you’re like to know more about.
I encourage you to request membership, visit often, and definitely post what you find in your area!
Himmelman, John.and Michael DiGiorgio. 2009. Guide to Night-singing Insects of the Northeast. Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania: Stackpole Books
These insects are not all in our range, but I found this book helpful because line drawings of both males and females are included. There is a CD as well. I was able to identify the Cuban Ground Cricket from this book and CD. That species was not supposed to be present anywhere near our area, but it is, in fact one of our common ground crickets. Himmelman’s book helped me confirm this identification.
He also has a subsequent book on singing insects entitled Cricket Radio
Capinera, John, Ralph D. Scott, and Thomas J. Walker. 2004. Field Guide to Grasshoppers, Katydids, and Crickets of the United States. Ithaca and London, Cornell University Press. There’s information on crickets and katydids, and all the information you could likely need on grasshoppers. I’ve kept a copy of this book at home and another in the car for years.
Finally, if you can possibly obtain this book, you should do so:
Dethier, Vincent. 1992. Crickets and Katydids, Concerts and Solos. Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England. Harvard University Press.
This is one of my favorite books in life. I read it annually. It’s not only a wonderfully-informative narrative of a journey through the singing insect season, it’s the meeting of arts and sciences. Dethier’s deep appreciation for the singing insects and their context makes time and preoccupations stop for me whenever I read this beautifully-written book, which I do every year.
Read it a chapter at a time, coordinating with the singing insect season. Then go out in the field.
Female Narrow-winged Tree Cricket, Sandy Ridge Reservation
NE Ohio parks and preserves
I have done field research on singing insects at parks and preserves around NE Ohio for the past 10 years. I’ve also made trips to study the singing insects at others in our area. I've provided links to the park districts and individual parks that I've studied.
Some park districts are open until 11PM, so these are good choices for insects that sing after dark. However, those that close earlier are very interesting places to explore for the crickets and katydids that sing in the later afternoon.
I offer my deepest thanks and appreciation to those park districts and preserves that granted me after-dark access to explore and document the species in their parks that we otherwise would not have known were present.
Most parks are open till 11PM. Burton wetlands closes earlier.
I did small research grants for the Geauga Park District for 5 summers/early autumns. Although I did research for the parks here, I also studied here and developed my listening, observation, and documentation skills. It's where I began my solo field work.
Parks are open till 11 PM. Lake Erie Bluffs has two areas to explore: the Lane Road entrance and the Clark Road entrance.
Tallmadge Meadows and Liberty Park’s Pond Brook Conservation Area. The F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm is excellent for singing insects that are easily accessible. Most parks are open till 11PM, but Pond Brook's Buttonbush Trail closes earlier.
The Audubon Society of Greater Cleveland was very helpful in providing opportunities to learn more about singing insects in northwestern Portage County. Both of these sanctuaries are also State Nature Preserves, and they are open to the public during daylight hours.
The diverse habitat of this beautiful preserve provided excellent opportunities for me. It is open to the public daily until dark.
The Letha House East bridle trail takes you past wetlands, meadows, and fields.
The Wolf Creek Environmental Center/Alderfer-Oenslager Wildlife Sanctuary is open until 5PM and closed on Sundays. Otherwise, parks close at dark.
Parks are open until 11PM
North Chagrin Reservation Sanctuary Marsh, and South Chagrin Reservation's Jackson Field and Old Field are interesting locations for singing insects. North Chagrin has a small population of Long-tailed Meadow Katydids - the little red katydids - at Sanctuary Marsh.
Parks are open until sunset.
Parks are open dawn to dusk. I plan to learn more about the Portage Parks this year and will update here as I do. For anyone interested in the Black-horned Tree Cricket/Forbes's Tree Cricket overlap zone, Towners Woods has Black-horned Tree Crickets in the Butterfly Trail loop.
Holden protects a vast amount of diverse habitat. I was granted permission to do an after-dark survey one summer and was able to obtain a great deal of information about singing insects in that part of Lake County. Holden is privately funded - that's why they have admission and membership fees - so please consider joining.
https://www.cmnh.org/naturalareas, has protected more than 9,000 acres in NE Ohio. I have visited many of these gorgeous preserves. While most are not open to the public, there are field trips to the preserves in all seasons. I completed their Naturalist Certificate Program and learned more than I can begin to list from their outstanding conservation specialists. We are so fortunate to have the CMNH - and especially Natural Areas - in our region!
The North Kingsville Sand Barrens in NE Ashtabula County has been a location for some unexpected and fascinating singing insect study for me. This preserve is open to the public.
The museum's Mentor Marsh State Nature Preserve is also open to the public from dawn till dusk. An astonishingly impressive restoration is underway, and I hope to study singing insects there as the marsh recovers. Who survived during the dark days of the phragmites invasion? Who is moving back in to the restored marsh? To be continued!
I look forward to studying a number of the other CMNH preserves in greater detail in the near future.