Round-tipped Conehead

Round-tipped Conehead (Neoconocephalus retusus)

Occurrence

Very common in more southern areas such as Summit County and becoming increasingly common farther northeast. They've become an expected species.

Habitat

Meadows and fields.

Range

All counties in our region. This southern Ohio species is steadily and rapidly expanding north; the first Round-tippeds I found in our region were actually at Burton Wetlands in Geauga County. They are now as close to Pennsylvania as the Cleveland Museum of Natural History’s North Kingsville Sand Barrens in NE Ashtabula County -  almost at the shore of Lake Erie.

Physical description

They are smaller and a little rounder than the Sword-bearing Conehead. The cone is short, rounded, and has a black line at the tip. Green and brown individuals seem to occur in approximately equal numbers, and both color forms can be found within several feet of each other. There's an example below of both forms and another on the conehead katydid information page here.

Song

A penetrating, continuous, steady, high-pitched buzz. It is not very loud from a distance but becomes quite prominent when one gets close to this conehead. They sing in the later afternoon as well as at night.

Round-tipped Conehead at 80F, then at 63F - Recording by Lisa Rainsong
00:00 / 00:00

Adult season

These coneheads mature about a month later than the Sword-bearing Coneheads. I don’t expect to hear them any earlier than mid-August, but they will continue singing into early October and possibly beyond if the autumn is mild.

General description and context

This is a feisty insect! They are strong fliers and will quickly take off when approached. Sword-bearing Coneheads, on the other hand, are much more likely to quietly drop into the vegetation or freeze in place as if hoping you won’t see - and eat- them.

 

All of our female coneheads, including the Round-tippeds, have long ovipositors, so a long ovipositor is not helpful in determining the species. Look for the size, the cone, the attitude, and listen for the distinctive song.

Similar species:

Most coneheads look similar, but the Round-tipped is a little smaller and has a very small amount of black on its short, round cone. Its song is thin, penetrating, continuous buzz unlike the rhythmic pattern of the Nebraska or the sprinkler sound of the Sword-bearing.

Female's ovipositor
Nymph eating seeds

Field observation

If you are searching for a Round-tipped and think you know the area when one might be hiding, watch to see if the vegetation twitches. This unexpected, jerky movement has often been my clue that a Round-tipped male is present and where I should look for him. You’ll know when you’ve gotten too close, as he’ll simply fly away from you.

 

Listening in Nature posts:

http://listeninginnature.blogspot.com/2014/11/chasing-coneheads.html

http://listeninginnature.blogspot.com/2015/08/everyone-loves-conehead.html

 

Songs of Insects:

http://songsofinsects.com/katydids/round-tipped-conehead

 

Singing Insects of North America:

http://www.entnemdept.ufl.edu/walker/buzz/193a.htm

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