The Greater Cleveland Region of Northeast Ohio
Let’s start by limiting the number of possibilities to those in our immediate region. There are a great many singing insects, but it will be less overwhelming if we limit our options to those found in NE Ohio.
This field guide will cover the counties closest to the greater Cleveland area: Cuyahoga, Lake, Geauga, Portage,
Summit, Medina, and Lorain. (Map: Wikitravel.org)
Within this region there are differences in climate, soil, vegetation, and therefore, singing insects. Although many species are found in all seven counties, there are some that are more common west and southwest of Cleveland. Some species that are expected in most areas will be missing or very scattered in the snowbelt counties. However, even the snowbelt is seeing an increase in crickets and katydids that are gradually moving north as the climate warms.
Lake Erie significantly affects how early in the summer crickets and katydids mature and how late into the fall they continue to sing. They will mature at least a week earlier well south of Lake Erie, but the warm lake water in the fall will delay a hard freeze well beyond those that silence the singing insect chorus farther from the protective warmth of Lake Erie. When you cannot wait to hear the first crickets and katydids of the season, head south. When you cannot bear the thought of the concert ending, head north to the lakeshore.
Most of the species covered here can be found in much of Ohio, though additional species will be found in western and southern Ohio. It’s not just a north/south variation. You might be surprised to hear the difference between Lake County and Kelleys Island, or Cuyahoga County and Ottawa County.
There are excellent singing insect resources that cover much broader regions, and I will recommend and refer to them throughout this regional field guide. I encourage you to bookmark The Songs of Insects website by Wil Hershberger and Lang Elliott. It contains beautiful photos, recordings, species descriptions, and range maps for the eastern US. It was initially available as a book with a companion CD and these were my first textbooks for studying many of the crickets and katydids in our region.
When you begin learning the songs, however, I encourage you to stay with the ones from our area. Later, expand out for those you’ll hear when you travel downstate. I’ll have a list of additional resources a little later, so you’ll eventually be able to identify any species you’re likely to encounter.
In addition, I’ll refer to posts in my educational blog, Listening in Nature, that will have more recordings, photos, specific examples, and explanations. I’ll highlight the appropriate post when I refer to them here, so just click on the highlighted text.