I take a ton of photos of plants and animals. Sometimes, I have no idea what I'm photographing, but I'm always fascinated to see first hand something I haven't seen before. Back in October of 2006, Megan and I were camping at Alum Creek State Park. It was fall, and the goldenrods and asters were in full bloom. I noticed many different types of insects living amongst the goldenrod jungle, including this fascinating creature.
I never new what it was. Boy was it cool, and boy did I wish I had a better photograph, but it remained nameless. Until tonight. At the library, I picked up the copy of "The Songs of Insects" by Lang Elliot and Wil Hershberger, mainly for its CD of insect songs. Megan and I checked out our stuff and headed over to the gym, and I tried reading the new book as I walked on a treadmill. The reading-while-working-out thing made me sick to my stomach, but before I gave up, I turned to the page describing the black-horned tree cricket, Oecanthus nigricornis. Eureka! The photo I had taken almost a year and a half ago popped into my brain. Finally, I had an identification for this fascinating creature. The photographs in the book are superb. They even have shots of both the male and female. Looking at the image above, I think this is a female because it has a long , narrow ovipositor jutting backwards from its abdomen! Cool. According to Lang and Hesrberger's book, this species ranges throughout Ohio, living in brushy fields, roadsides and bramble thickets. That definitely matches up with the early successional habitats around Alum Creek Lake near the main campground where I took this picture. Hopefully I'll see this insect again this summer. What a cool find. Save those old digital pictures, and hit the library often!