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Common Meadow Katydid

Common Meadow Katydid (Orchelimum vulgare)

Occurrence

Uncommon in NE Ohio. They are more likely in other parts of the state, including west of Cleveland.

Habitat

Drier, upland meadows and grassy fields.

Range

Scattered throughout NE Ohio, but generally in small groups. They are well established at Letha House Park in the Medina Park District. Google map of locations found: Common Meadow Katydid locations

Physical description

Common Meadow Katydids are similar in size to Gladiator and Black-legged Meadow Katydids. They are green with bright yellow cerci, their long wings may be somewhat brown, and they have striking orange eyes. Females have curved ovipositors like those of the other Orchelimum., though not as strongly curved as the Black-legged Meadow Katydid female.

Song

A series of fast, sharp “tics” that sound like a typewriter (for anyone who remembers that sound) and then a metallic “whirr” (like the carriage return) that's a bit more abrasive than the Black-legged or Gladiator. The songs begin with many more "tics" than the Black-legged Meadow Katydid songs. They sing in the afternoon and at night.

Common Meadow Katydid Medina County - Recording by Lisa Rainsong
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Adult season

August and September, possibly into October.

General description and context

If you hear a meadow katydid that’s singing in a relatively dry meadow, field, or grassland, it is likely a Common Meadow Katydid. The habitat from Cleveland east/southeast may not favor them, but they do seem to be more common farther west and southwest of Cleveland. They can be found in our area along the Letha House bridle trail in the Medina County Metroparks and at the restored prairie/meadow areas of Springfield Bog Metropark in southern Summit County. I very much enjoyed watching one particular male at Springfield Bog singing while his goldenrod was whipping all around in the wind. He did not seem concerned whatsoever.

Similar species

Gladiator Meadow Katydids are also green and can be found in grassy meadows if they are not too dry, but their season is coming to an end as the Common Meadow Katydids are beginning. Gladiators are an expected species in wetlands, which would not be typical Common Meadow Katydid habitat. Finally, the Gladiator’s song begins with fewer tics and progresses into a softer, swishier whirr than the sharper, more metallic series of tics and harsher whirr of the Common.

Backyard observation

Crickets and katydids sometimes travel in the plants, shrubs, and saplings we purchase. We had a Common Meadow Katydid in the vines growing on the fence next to out driveway one summer, and he certainly had no business being there. My only guess is that he arrived as an egg or nymph in a native plant we’d purchased. I felt sad that he had zero chance of calling in a female, but it was a nice opportunity to study both his song and how he managed to hide for weeks from all the birds in our back yard. The photo below is our backyard guest.