Common True Katydid
Common True Katydid (Pterophylla camellifolia)
Very common in rural areas and in parks. Occasional in urban areas with mature trees.
Tall, deciduous trees, especially oaks. They are occasionally heard or – with much luck – seen in younger trees.
All counties in NE Ohio
1+1/2 – 2” with large wings that are much rounder wings than those most katydids. Males have a dark stridulatory field at the base of their wings. Males and females blend impressively well with leaves.
In the photo below, he is singing - a sight we seldom have the opportunity to observe!
You probably already know this song. It’s a very percussive, short series of scrapes heard in groups of 2, 3, or 4 (and on some occasions, maybe 5). The name comes from these patterns, as in “Ka-ty, Ka-ty did! Ka-ty did-n’t!” They can sing the two, three, or four “syllable” songs and they can mix them up. The songs are faster when warm, and can be very slow when it’s chilly. In the track below, Common True Katydids are singing first at 84F, then at 55F. Common True Katydids, whether singly or in groups, often sound as if they are doing a call-and-response. Listen for a back-and-forth pattern when you hear them.
The next recording of a Common True Katydid soloist was made on Kelleys Island. Depending on your high-frequency hearing, you may also be able to hear a Nebraska Conehead or two - possibly the only katydid that can complete with the Common True Katydids.
Late July into October. I have heard them sing at late as the end of October or beginning of November even if there have been storms and very few leaves remain up in their trees.
General description and context
Considering their large, round wings, one might think these katydids would be very strong fliers. No, however - they don’t actually fly. After a storm, you may find one that’s been knocked down from its oak tree. They’ll try to climb back up to their leafy habitat.
We found a female nymph on the ceiling of our front porch, perhaps attracted to the porch light. Notice her large, curved ovipositor and her little nymph wings.
Although they don’t fly, they do manage to move from one tree to another. If you get to know them in your yard, you may notice that the one above the front porch moved to the tree next to the driveway, or the one by the garage is now close to the house. I once found a male in our porch mailbox and a female on the rolled-up hose under our back window. They definitely move around.
Songs of Insects
Singing Insects of North America