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Greater Angle-wing

Greater Angle-wing (Microcentrum rhombifolium)

Occurrence

Common to abundant, and is found in rural, suburban and even urban areas.

Habitat

Woodlands, yards with mature trees, and occasionally shrubs at woodland edges.

Range

All counties in our region.

The smaller Lesser Angle-wing (Microcentrum retinerve) is found along with the Greater Anglewing in the southern half of the state. I suspect that they may eventually expand their range north and reach NE Ohio. There was a report of a Lesser Angle-wing in Cleveland in 2017 (per Chuck Slusarczyk).

Physical description

This large katydid has long wings with a distinctive angular shape. Their color is green or almost bluish green, and they have subtle, light speckles that add to their leaf-like camouflage. The male’s stridulatory field is green, unlike the brown color of the Rattler Round-winged, Oblong-winged, and Common True Katydids.

Song

There are two songs: the primary “tic-tic-tic-tic” that becomes faster as it progresses, and a “tzit!” call. They sing at night, though they may sing before sunset later in the season when nights got colder.

The first recording is at 63F.  You'll hear both the "tzit!" calls and the "tic-tic-tic" songs. The sonogram will show you the difference.

 

Greater Angle-wing "tzit!" calls and "tic-tic-tic" songs, 63F - Recording by Lisa Rainsong
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The second recording is from a warmer evening in the 70s, and you'll hear more from the rest of the singing insect chorus. Notice from the sonogram that the Greater Angle-wing's song is higher than the rest of what you're hearing, and the percussive nature of the songs will help you pick them out. Remember, though, that because the frequencies are rather high, the range may be a little more challenging.

Greater Angle-wing songs at 74F - Recording by Lisa Rainsong
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Finally, here are just the "tzit" calls alone, as a whole series of these is possible. The challenge later on will be separating these from the ""pffft!" songs of the Fork-tailed Bush Katydid, as Greater Angle-wings are sometimes in shrubs that are typical habitat for Fork-taileds.

Greater Angle-wing "tzit!" calls - Unknown Artist
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Adult season

Mid-August into October if the weather is mild.

General description and context

Of all the leaf mimics, I think this species is the most impressive. The venation in its wings is elegantly detailed, and the tiny light spots further break up the shape of the katydid and make it almost impossible to see. They can remain motionless in the leaves for long periods of time, and I have wondered if even the birds move right past them.

They are strong fliers when they choose to be mobile, and you may be able to see them fly from one tree or shrub to another after sunset. They may even fly to individual trees or shrubs in a meadow area.

Similar species

The other leaf-mimics are not as large and do not have the obvious wing angle. Unlike the Oblong-winged, there is no brown on the male’s stridulatory field. The Rattler Round-winged Katydid is quite small in comparison, so you probably won't confuse them. Although the Fork-tailed Bush Katydid has a “pffftt!” song that might resemble the “tzit!” of the Greater Angle-wing, the Angle-wings sing them much more frequently and are probably going to be up in trees or tall shrubs.

Terrarium observation

A Greater Angle-wing that showed up above our back porch door late in the season spent his final days in a leafy terrarium in our kitchen. It was astonishing how well he hid among the oak leaves I brought him! I would search for a long time to find this large katydid that was just inches away from my face, and sometimes I simply could not find him at all. Later, I would discover that he was almost in front of my eyes.