Photo by Lincoln Karim
July 4, 2005
It was about 9:30 on the 4th of July, and a small group of people with telescopes had gathered at the NE corner of the great lawn to watch the natural fireworks in the sky, that is the stars, planets, and other heavenly bodies. Meanwhile the commercial fireworks, courtesy of Macy's, were loudly booming somewhere east and south of us. Around 9:40, just as the smoke from the noisy fireworks [the celestial ones are blissfully silent] had almost obliterated the sparkling Central Park South skyline and we were beginning to get whiffs of it at our end of the lawn -- a good three miles from the fireworks barge at the East River, by my calculations -- Stella, one of the Hawkbench regulars, called out "Hey, who's this?"
Sitting on top of the black wire fence that encircles the Great Lawn and thus allows people to enter only at designated openings, was a small, beautiful insect. I can tell you it was a member of the order Orthoptera, but I'm not even sure if it was a grasshopper or cricket. Luckily Lincoln was with us. He had already packed up his large camera and tripod for the night but he quickly unpacked it. He took a bunch of pictures and this morning he e-mailed me the one above.
I was guessing that it was a Snowy Tree Cricket -- I'd seen one before in Central Park -- but when I got home that evening and checked it out in my various insect books I could see that it wasn't. The shape was wrong. Unfortunately the creature we had all admired didn't resemble any of the other crickets or grasshoppers in any of my insect books either.
So now I'll have to wait until I can show the picture to our entomologyl guru Nick Wagerik to identify. And he doesn't have an e-mail mailbox! He doesn't even have a computer. So it may be a while. Maybe one of my readers can help. Here's a clue: it had a distinct black spot at the tip of its abdomen..