Meadow Katydids

The meadow katydids (long-horned grasshoppers) are a familiar group. They are the little green grasshoppers with long filamentous antennae that frequent open, grassy areas. There are thirty-nine species in North America, and nearly all of them fall into two groups: the small-to-medium meadow katydids (genus Conocephalus) and the large meadow katydids (genus Orchelimum). In this guide, we introduce thirteen common and widespread species, with examples from both genera. The meadow katydid clan includes some of our most colorful katydids, with bright green bodies complemented by shades of blue, yellow, red, and orange that cover the legs, eyes, or wings. Some species, such as the Handsome Meadow Katydid, are particularly stunning in appearance, with rich translucent colors of surprising intensity.

Abundant in grassy meadows and other open areas, meadow katydids sound off with vigor when it’s sunny and warm, but the high-pitched songs of the males are unmusical and quite unlike the pretty chirps and trills of crickets. Composed of soft ticks accompanied by swishy buzzes, rattles, shuffles, or purrs, meadow katydid songs are reminiscent of the ryhthmic sounds made by a shaker full of rice or sand, or the high swishing of a drummer’s brush against a cymbal. Some even sound like a lawn-sprinkler ratcheting away on a sunny day. Though their songs are unmusical, a meadow full of katydids fiddling their tunes on a warm summer’s afternoon can be quite pleasing to the ear, as if the grasses and weeds have joined together in a whispering chorus of pastoral tranquility and joy.

With practice, the different species can be recognized by their songs. Each has a unique pattern, but confusion can arise because song tempo responds to the ambient temperature, just as it does in crickets and other katydids — when the temperature drops, everything slows down. Thus, a hot male of a species with a slow-tempo song might sound similar to a cold male of a species with a more rapid-tempo song. Males of each species can also be differentiated by their reproductive organs, in this case the cerci that extend from the rear of their abdomens. The diagram at the bottom of this page presents drawings of cerci of the species included in this guide.

Our Insect Musicians:

Introduction
Biology of Insect Song
Human Hearing & Insect Song
Beginner’s Guide to Song IDs
Advanced Guide to Song IDs
How to Find and Watch
Singing Insects as Pets
Relaxing Insect MP3s

Master List of Species
(with sounds)

Navigate to Species Pages:

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FAMILY DESCRIPTION

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Meadow Katydids (Tettigoniidae):
FAMILY DESCRIPTION
Saltmarsh Meadow Katydid
Short-winged Meadow Katydid
Slender Meadow Katydid
Woodland Meadow Katydid
Straight-lanced Meadow Katydid
Agile Meadow Katydid
Black-legged Meadow Katydid
Common Meadow Katydid
Gladiator Meadow Katydid
Handsome Meadow Katydid
Lesser Pine Meadow Katydid
Long-spurred Meadow Katydid
Red-headed Meadow Katydid
Coneheads (Copiphorinae):
FAMILY DESCRIPTION
Round-tipped Conehead
Nebraska Conehead
Robust Conehead
Slightly Musical Conehead
Sword-bearing Conehead
False Robust Conehead
True Katydids (Pseudophyllinae):
FAMILY DESCRIPTION
Common True Katydid
False Katydids (Phaneropterinae):
FAMILY DESCRIPTION
Clicker Round-winged Katydid
Common Virtuoso Katydid
Rattler Round-winged Katydid
Oblong-winged Katydid
Great Angle-wing
Lesser Angle-wing
Broad-winged Bush Katydid
Curved-tailed Bush Katydid
Fork-tailed Bush Katydid
Northern Bush Katydid
Texas Bush Katydid
Treetop Bush Katydid
Shield-backed Katydids (Tettigoniinae):
FAMILY DESCRIPTION
American Shieldback
Least Shieldback
Protean Shieldback
Robust Shieldback
Roesel’s Katydid

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