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Black-legged Meadow Katydid

Black-legged Meadow Katydid (Orchelimum nigripes)

Occurrence

Abundant in appropriate habitat.

Habitat

Wetlands, pond edges, wet meadows

Range

All counties in NE Ohio

Physical description

Very similar in size to the Gladiator Meadow Katydid, but far more colorful. Their bodies are green with bluish-green wings and black legs. They have red eyes, and their faces range from white to red. The two males below were in the same marsh on the same night.

Female Black-legged Meadow Katydids will have prominently curved ovipositors, as will the Gladiator and Common Meadow Katydids. Conocephalus meadow katydid females have thinner and definitely straighter ovipositors (pictured below: an adult female and a nymph).

Song

Often three fast “tics” followed by a “whirr.” The number of tics can vary a little, and sometimes they will only make a short series of “tics.” They're relatively easy to hear, and they sing in the afternoon and at night.

Black-legged Meadow Katydid - Recording by Lisa Rainsong
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Adult season

Beginning of August through at least mid- October if temperatures permit. In warm autumns, they can be found into November.

General description and context

Just about any wetland will be home to these katydids. They are common in cattails and bulrushes, and can be found in a variety of other wetland and wet meadow plants as well. I have found them in blackberries and even in goldenrod, eating the flowers. They may be in shrubs and vines in edge habitats as well. The male and female below are eating cattail seeds and a cattail leaf.

Similar species

Gladiator Meadow Katydids can be found in some of the same habitats, but Gladiators generally finish their season at the beginning of August as the Black-leggeds mature. If you see both, it will be immediately be apparent that Gladiators are green and Black-leggeds are very colorful. You can hear a comparison of their songs on the Meadow Katydid Introduction page.

Common Meadow Katydids are usually in drier upland areas, but I’ve found both in the same meadows on occasion. Commons are also green, unlike the colorful Black-legged. The song is more metallic and there are more “tics” at the beginning.

Field observation

Although they're very colorful, they blend as well with later summer and fall vegetation as the bright green Gladiator Meadow Katydids blend with mid-summer vegetation. You may be surprised that they can be almost as difficult to find as the Gladiators.