The Chicago region for this project includes 22 counties from southeastern Wisconsin around to Berrien County, Michigan. Singing insects are defined here as the cicadas, crickets, katydids, and members of two grasshopper subfamilies with sound displays that people can hear (though the songs of some are so high pitched that only young people can hear them unaided). There are around 100 species, though some I haven’t found outside historical records. I update the guide each year, and this year’s version is just over 100 pages.
The most important changes in the 2017 guide:
Added species pages for Cuban ground cricket, prairie meadow katydid, short-winged toothpick grasshopper, and clipped-wing grasshopper.
Removal of the page for the delicate meadow katydid (previous observation proved to be a variant of the dusky-faced meadow katydid; I am concerned that both delicate meadow katydids and slender coneheads may be extinct in the region).
Change of identification: the species previously labeled northwestern red-winged grasshopper proved to be a color variant of the autumn yellow-winged grasshopper.
Addition of 145 county records for all species combined, with the filling out of 9 species’ maps.
Added finds of persisting populations for 3 rare species.
Continued northward range expansion for the jumping bush cricket.
The guide is available for free as a highly compressed PDF document. (See Online References—Insects for the 2017 guide.) There are maps showing current and historical county records, graphical devices indicating seasonal and time-of-day information, and descriptions of the insects and their songs. Information is presented as well on conservation concerns and ongoing range expansions. To get on the mailing list for future updates, send your request to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s the first time this has been done and a lot of eyes are watching.
A unique collaborative effort by Victor J. Andrew High School (VJA) AP Environmental Science students, Illinois Master Naturalists (ILMNs), Orland Grassland Volunteers (OGVs), and the Forest Preserves of Cook County (FPCC) launched a pilot project to set up a shrub nursery at Orland Grassland from shrubs propagated on site.
With expansive prairie views, hilly, open Orland Grassland is a 960-acre wild destination for nature lovers. The area was once farmland, but since 2002 has been undergoing loving restoration as a grassland complex with prairie, wetlands, open ponds, oak savannas, shrublands, and woodlands.
The shrub project began when Laura Kirby, an AP Environmental Science teacher at VJA, contacted Pat Hayes, Orland Grassland Site Steward, asking if there was a project her students could do. Almost at the same time, Annette Pletcher, OGV and ILMN, came to Pat and asked if there was a project the ILMNs could do at Orland Grassland. Hmmm. Shrub propagation?
Enter Brigit Anne Holt, the Extension Program Coordinator, Master Naturalist, University of Illinois Extension. The question was posed: “Is it possible to take cuttings of our native American plum and hazelnut shrubs, and possibly others when timely, so that the VJA students can plant them?” The answer: “Yes, what a great project.”
Lake County Forest Preserves’ Ryerson Woods is home to Brushwood Center, an environmental education and arts center, “a center for discourse about nature and culture.” Brushwood features an ongoing variety of programs bringing nature lovers together to paint, watch birds, practice yoga, or simply enjoy a concert against a backdrop of wood, field, and farm.
On May 14th, Brushwood Center will host the Smith Nature Symposium, a benefit dinner with a keynote by Clemson University’s Dr. J. Drew Lanham, a self-described “a man of color in love with the natural world.” Dr. Lanham is a nationally-respected voice on the deep connection between ethnicity, land, and conservation and he will be addressing the link between minority communities and critical bird habitat. Click here to register for the benefit dinner.
Ryerson Woods is an amazing place with its pre-settlement flora and fauna, a place, thankfully, where we can enjoy the beauties of spring unencumbered by garlic mustard…
I used to be a happy camper when I was painting a Shooting Star in spring, but soon I realized that I could paint only one plant during that time, missing all others, because I only had limited time. After agonizing over the issue, I came up with a solution: just drawing and keeping color notes in blooming seasons, and finishing up the paintings in winter. How perfect with Chicago’s long winter! At this point, more than 70 finished and unfinished drawings are waiting for their turn. New ones are added whenever opportunities arise. Even exotic plants like Ginseng and Titan Arum have found their place in my flat file. Of course, I should paint Ginseng, an Asian cure-all, to honor my father who was an herbal medicine practitioner.
Are you an insect fan looking for a monitoring opportunity? A frequenter of a local wetland? Maybe a birder looking for creatures to track between migration seasons? Just want to level up your binocular and observation skills? Monitoring Odonates (Order Odonata, encompassing dragonflies and damselflies) may be just the thing for you.
The Illinois Odonate Survey has six workshops scheduled for 2016. They are listed below. Please RSVP for your selected workshop by email. Cook and Will County volunteers should also be able to RSVP via their Volunteer Resources page.
Will County Forest Preserve
Sugar Creek Administration Center February 27th 8am – 10am
17540 W. Laraway Road, west of Route 52, Joliet, IL 60433
Notebaert Nature Museum March 12th 10am – Noon
2430 N. Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614
DuPage County Forest Preserve
Blackwell Forest Preserve March 15th 6pm – 8pm
29 W 220 Mack Road, West Chicago, IL 60185
Cook County Forest Preserve
Volunteer Resource Center March 19th 9am – Noon
6100 N. Central Avenue, Chicago, IL 60646
Little Red Schoolhouse March 20th 9am – Noon
9800 Willow Springs Road, Willow Springs, IL 60480
Lake County Forest Preserve
Ryerson Woods March 26th 10am – Noon
21950 N. Riverwoods Road, Deerfield, IL 60015
Learn more about these amazing insects!
In 2015, I completed my 10th year of studying the singing insects of the Chicago region, and have begun to distribute the species guide that is the project’s main product. The Chicago region for this project includes 22 counties from southeastern Wisconsin around to Berrien County, Michigan. Singing insects are defined here as the cicadas, crickets, katydids, and members of two grasshopper subfamilies with sound displays that people can hear (though the songs of some are so high pitched that only young people can hear them unaided). There are around 100 species, though some I haven’t found outside historical records. I update the guide each year, and this year’s version just reached 100 pages.
The guide is available for free as a highly compressed PDF document that nevertheless occupies over 5MB, thanks to the many photos. (See Online Resources—Insects for the 2016 guide.) There are maps showing current and historical county records, graphical devices indicating seasonal and time-of-day information, and descriptions of the insects and their songs. Information is presented as well on conservation concerns and ongoing range expansions. To get on the mailing list for future updates, send your request to me at email@example.com.
Nachusa Grasslands in Ogle County, Illinois is a sample of how extraordinary leadership by both volunteers and staff, restored a quality habitat unprecedented in ambition, scope, and diversity. Preserve Manager Bill Kleiman recalls, “When Nachusa first started out, the prairie remnants were dingy, brush filled, bisected by fences and fence row trees. Some of the prairies were so heavily grazed they looked like lawns with thorn bushes for cattle shade.” In 1986 the Nature Conservancy acquired 400 acres of small prairie remnants scattered among cornfields. In 2014, 25 years and 3,000 acres later, it is home to 700 native plant species, 180 species of birds — and now wild bison:
Wild Things 2015 Keynote: 0.01 Pat Hayes, introduction; 6:45 cook county board president Toni Preckwinkle, welcome; 16:45 Bill Kleiman, keynote speaker
Both volunteers and professionals remain crucial to this important and unpredictable drama.