Long-tailed Meadow Katydid
Long-tailed Meadow Katydid (Conocephalus attenuatus)
Wetlands. They are very habitat-specific, and generally reside in plants that are in at least a little water. Assume you will need knee-high boots to get close to them.
Scattered throughout all counties in our region.
The Long-tailed Meadow is quite different from the other species in its genus because it's either entirely red, or red with green legs. The color blends very well with reddish cattail heads, and that’s a likely place to find this katydid. The females - even female nymphs - have very long, curved ovipositors that are even longer than that of the Straight-lanced Meadow Katydid.
Like other Conocephalus meadow katydids, the song is quite high and seems very soft to us (when we can hear it at all). It is more of a rattle than a whirr, rather like the Black-sided Meadow Katydid, but there are pauses instead of a long, continuous song. They typically sing at night.
Late July until frost.
General description and context
Finding these katydids generally requires dedication to the search. Knee-high Neoprene boots will typically be required, and you may still have to keep an eye on the tops of those boots for overflow. Dense stands of cattails are a good place to look for them, but be aware that they will leap quickly and gracefully from one cattail to the next while humans struggle just to stay upright. Mosquito netting may also be necessary to protect your face.
Wetland habitat loss is certainly a significant threat to these katydids, and accessibility may also be a factor in determining just how common they actually are. In addition, they are much more active at night.
This is another species that has an occasional long-winged form. I found both a long-winged male and a long-winged female in a stand of cattails near a former gas well brine storage area in Liberty Park’s Pond Brook Conservation Area in Twinsburg on the Summit/Portage County line. Note that in the photos below, they are eating cattail leaves.
Listening in Nature
Singing Insects of North America: