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Short-winged Meadow Katydid

Short-winged Meadow Katydid (Conocephalus brevipennis)

Occurrence

Generally abundant. Widespread throughout NE Ohio

Range

All counties in NE Ohio

Physical description

Small meadow katydid with a dark stripe down its back that is visible because of the short wings. Golden brown abdomen. The female’s ovipositor resembles a blade that angles slightly upward.

Song

Slow, deliberate tic-tic-whirrr. The number of tics is variable. The song may seem soft and difficult to hear because the frequency is quite high. They sing in afternoon and at night.

Short-winged Meadow Katydid - Recording by Lisa Rainsong
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Although the songs are loud, look at how high they are! They're at the top of what my equipment registers and also at the upper levels of what humans can hear.

Habitat

Very common in meadows, edge habitats and wetland edges, and less common in grassy pastures.

Adult season

Early August until well into October and even November.

General description and context

As you get to know this species, note how the color changes throughout the season. They become more colorful or even much browner as fall progresses. Late-season individuals can almost appear to be a different species. The male and female below were photographed on October 27th.

If you are out in a park or another property after dark, you may see many of these katydids – including very tiny nymphs – ascending to the tops of very tall grasses to feast on the seeds. And although seeds – even large ones - are a major part of their diet, I once saw a female Short-winged Meadow Katydid eating a damselfly!

Similar species

Slender Meadow Katydids have long wings and their bodies – including cerci – are green. Straight-lanced Meadow Katydids also have short wings – even shorter that Short-wingeds, in fact -  but their abdomens are not dark yellow or orange at the end. The shape of the cerci (the projection at the end of the abdomen) is also diagnostic.

Field observation

There is actually a long-winged form of the Short-winged Meadow Katydid! The male will still have his butterscotch-colored abdomen and the female will have the distinctive blade-like ovipositor that is angled slightly upward.