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Male or female?

 If a cricket or katydid is singing, you immediately have the answer. Males sing.

The most obvious are the tree crickets, who raise their beautiful wings at a 90 degree angle from their bodies.

Broad-winged Tree Cricket singing
Forbes's Tree Cricket singing

Trigs and Jumping Bush Crickets also clearly raise their wings when they sing.

Handsome Trig singing
Jumping Bush Cricket singing

It’s much less obvious for male ground crickets and field crickets, as they don’t raise their wings very much when they sing. However, their wings will be longer than those of the females.

Allard's Ground Cricket singing
Female and male Fall Field Crickets.
The male is singing

Male katydids don’t raise their wings very much, but you’ll sometimes see the song movement. You’re more likely to see the wings raised a little during the long or continuous songs of male meadow katydids and coneheads. In some species, the male meadow katydids also have longer wings than the females.

Black-legged Meadow Katydid singing.
Sword-bearing Conehead singing

Males are only half the story, though, even though we humans are fascinated and enchanted by their songs. The females are busy mating and laying the eggs that will become next year's musicians.

Both males and females take risks in the reproductive cycle. Because males sing, they call attention to themselves and expose themselves to predators.

Females takes risks of their own. When males sing, females move toward the males that seem like the best reproductive candidates. The females call attention to themselves by moving. I noticed years ago that I hear the males but see the females. Those are the risks they take. Watching their behavior - both the males and the females -  is fascinating.

What you should look for in both crickets and katydids is the female’s ovipositor at the end of her abdomen. “Ova” means “egg,” and an ovipositor is what she uses to deposit those eggs in the soil, in plant stems, between layers of a leaf, in blackberry canes, or in the trunk, branch, or twig of a shrub, depending on her species. The size and shape of the ovipositor is determined by where that species’ females lay their eggs. I'll show photos of ovipositors for the various species later, but here are a few examples.

Black-legged Meadow Katydid female: curved ovipositor
Straight-lanced Meadow Katydid female
Broad-winged Tree Cricket female's ovipositor is dark and is concealed beneath her wings.
Striped Ground Cricket female's ovipositor is quite visible
The Curve-tailed Bush Katydid's name is from the female's curved ovipositor.
(However, the other bush katydids generally have curved ovipositors as well.)

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