junior hoppers

For the past couple of weeks, as soon as the air temperature warms each morning, junior hoppers of all sorts emerge to bask in the sunlight on grass stalks and plants leaves. This year, I’ve been making an attempt to photograph some of these grasshopper, cricket and katydid nymphs. Most of the grasshoppers are rather shy and creep off into the foliage as soon as a camera approaches, but the katydids are a little more brassy and will hold their ground. Above is the nymph of an unidentified species of katydid (click on all images for larger views). At this stage, they don’t look much like their adult form. Interesting thing about this little nymph. I found it perched on the same milkweed plant for several days in a row, so it seems they might hang out in certain places. I’ve certainly noticed that with the young grasshoppers that frequent the hydrangea plants next to the foundation of our house.

Unless I’m not mistaken, above is a partly grown Roesel’s Katydid (Metrioptera roeselii), an introduced species of shield-backed grasshopper. In The Songs of Insects (see review below), the notes for this species state that it is a native of Europe that was accidentally introduced to the Montreal area in the 1950s and has since spread into the eastern U.S. with an isolated population in Illinois. We certainly find many of them here, especially among the milkweed plants. Here is a photo of an adult of the long-winged form.

Above, I mentioned The Songs of Insects by Lang Elliott and Wil Hershberger. I bought a copy a few weeks ago and it’s really quite wonderful, so I thought I’d make mention of it. The book and CD set features 77 common species of crickets, katydids, locusts and cicadas commonly encountered in eastern and central North America. Each insect is usually given two facing pages which include photos, a brief description of its habitat and usual places where it might be found, along with any other interesting notes. The song of each insect is described and there’s a range map (which actually includes Canada!), and a sonagram – a “sound picture” of each insect’s song. The photographs are beautiful — usually one photo of each insect in situ, and one of a live insect posed on a white background in a whitebox. The square format of the book (8.5 x 8.5 inches) with mainly full page shots makes for some incredible images. The book comes with a 70 minute CD with high-quality recordings of all of the insects in the book. It’s a wonderful “package” and would make a nice addition to the library of anyone who happens to enjoy studying insects. Not meaning to detract at all from the book, the only point I should probably mention is that there aren’t many grasshoppers included in the book. The rationale for selection was based on those species that had distinctive and identifiable songs, so only a couple of grasshoppers (locusts) made the cut.

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4 Responses to “junior hoppers”

  1. Patrick Says:

    I got the book the other night. I love it! Lang Elliott’s frog/toad book is also wonderful.

  2. Ontario Wanderer Says:

    I bought the book a few weeks ago on someone’s recommendations. (Yours?) Yes, it’s great. I’ve not been able to get such clear photos and it is wonderful to attach a named insect to some of the noises in our meadows.

  3. robin andrea Says:

    That does look like a great book, bev. I have been thinking lately about the birds I hear, but never see. It’s interesting how hard it is for me to identify birds solely by their song. Now, I can add the lovely music of these insects to the symphony I hear all around me, artists unknown!

  4. bev Says:

    Patrick and OW – Glad to hear that others have this book and CD set and also think highly of it. I’m always a little reluctant to recommend books as I don’t know if they will appeal to anyone else. Anyhow, I think it’s a super. Patrick, good to hear that the frog/toad book is so good. I might get a copy. It might help cheer me up in winter when I miss hearing the frogs (I do volunteer frog surveys quite frequently, so it’s part of what summer is all about!).

    robin – I’ve always wished that I was better with bird songs. I’m not bad, but not that great either. Lang Elliott has some similar bird books as well, so I’m thinking of getting one of them to help me associate the songs with the photos. If the photos in the bird book are as good as these insect photos, it owuld definitely make an impression. And yes! The symphony of unknown artists! I like that!