The Orthoptera of Michigan-Biology, Keys, and Descriptions of Grasshoppers, Katydids, Crickets E2815

October 28, 2015 - Author: Roger Bland


Because Michigan has a diversity of coastal and inland habitats as well as a central geographic location in North America, where insects from more northern, southern, eastern, and western climes reach the limits of their ranges, the state boasts a moderately rich orthopteran fauna. Even though grasshoppers, katydids, and crickets are some of our most familiar insects, Michigan has never had a comprehensive reference book such as this on the entire group. In addition, it is the only current publication in the United States to treat the major families of Orthoptera at the species level. This book includes the general biology of the order and each of the seven families in Michigan and provides fully illustrated keys to family and species. I include general and specific morphological illustrations and a glossary to familiarize the reader with terms and descriptions used in the keys. Current Michigan county distribution records are shown for each species. Additionally, this book is unique in having color images of each of the 137 species, and diagnostic characteristics, North American distribution, habitat, food, and sound description of each species. The reference section includes Internet sites and past surveys of orthopterans in the United States on state and regional bases. Most of the Michigan species occur in the other Great Lakes states, so the book is useful in these states, also.

This book also has a chapter on orthopteran species of special concern — i.e., species with narrow habitat tolerances and, typically, declining habitats. There is a list of 27 additional species found either in only a few counties, in very localized habitats, or in very low numbers.

The Orthoptera of Michigan is written for a broad audience with an educated interest in insects and some experience in identifying insects. I classify the text as semitechnical — technical terms are minimized and always defined in the glossary, and all morphological descriptions are illustrated. The target audience includes professional and amateur entomologists in the Great Lakes region as well as in other areas of the world; natural resource, field, and conservation biologists; Extension and plant pest quarantine agents; experiment station specialists; naturalists; biologists at nature centers; and biologists teaching at universities, colleges, and high schools.

I have examined 25 institutional collections and three private collections and made numerous field excursions throughout Michigan during the past two decades. Many central and northern counties undoubtedly have additional species not yet recorded because of inadequate systematic collecting. The baseline species list and distribution data originated from the valuable annotated list of Michigan Orthoptera compiled by the late Irving J. Cantrall (1968). I hope that Irv, with his knowledge and enthusiasm for the Orthoptera, would have enjoyed this book.


The insect order Orthoptera — grasshoppers, katydids, crickets, and others — includes some of our best-known insects, thanks to their relatively large size, strong leaping ability, often vivid coloration, and periodic high populations in gardens, fields, and rangelands. Their agricultural and biological importance; the diversity of chirping, buzzing, clicking, and crackling sounds they produce during day and night; and their popularity as live bait for fishing add to their familiarity.

In Michigan, Orthoptera comprises the families Acrididae (grasshoppers), Tetrigidae (pygmy grasshoppers), Tridactylidae (pygmy mole grasshoppers), Tettigoniidae (katydids), Rhaphidophoridae (cave and camel crickets), Gryllidae (crickets), and Gryllotalpidae (mole crickets). Michigan has 137 species of Orthoptera out of an estimated 1,210 species known from North America north of Mexico (Otte 1997a). Worldwide there are more than 25,000 described species (Otte and Naskrecki 1997), most of which are subtropical or tropical. To put this into perspective relative to all types of insects, the total number of insect species catalogued is estimated at about 950,000 (Samways 1997), although estimates range up to 5 million or more (Gaston 1991).

At the beginning of the 20th century, the most complete catalogue and index of North American Orthoptera were produced by Scudder (1900, 1901). The first faunal treatment for Michigan appeared in the form of a key with annotations (Pettit and McDaniel 1918). The most comprehensive treatment that included Michigan species was by Blatchley (1920), a reference book still useful today, although, in the interim, there have been numerous taxonomic changes. Various Michigan regional studies on the ecology, taxonomy, and distribution of Orthoptera have been published since the early 1900s (see Literature Cited and Miscellaneous References). In particular, Can trail (1968) published an annotated list of orthopteroids of Michigan, Alexander et al. (1972) created keys identifying the singing orthopteran species of Michigan by song and morphology, and Vickery and Kevan (1983, 1986) produced a valuable monograph of Canadian orthopteroids that included Michigan and other northern states.


Tags: fisheries & wildlife, lawn & garden, natural resources

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