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Straight-lanced Meadow Katydid

Straight-lanced Meadow Katydid (Conocephalus strictus)

Occurrence

Uncommon and very local in drier areas or sandy soil.

Habitat

They live in grasses in scattered sandy or dry upland locations - drier habitats than the other Conocephalus meadow katydids in our region. I regularly find them at the North Kingsville Sand Barrens close to Lake Erie in eastern Ashtabula County and at Sandy Ridge Reservation in Lorain County near the parking area. I occasionally encounter them in other places as well, but they are not a species I expect to see.

Range

Lorain, Lake, and Ashtabula counties, and possibly other scattered locations with suitable conditions. Google map: Straight-lanced Meadow Katydid locations.

Physical description

Straight-lanced Meadow Katydids look a bit more substantial than Short-winged or Slender Meadow Katydids. Their diminutive wings -even smaller than those of the Short-winged Meadow Katydid - reveal a dark stripe down their backs. Straight-lanced Meadow Katydids have visibly longer cerci than Short-winged or Slender Meadow Katydids, and females have very long ovipositors.

Female Straight-lanced Meadow Katydid's long ovipositor
Male Stright-lanced Meadow Katydid's cerci (the projections at the end of the abdomen).
He is singing in this photograph.

Song

A very high, soft whirr that will alternate between a fast, dense whirr and a somewhat slower one that is more like a soft rattle. This change can happen without an audible pause as the entire song continues uninterrupted. They sing at night and possibly in the afternoon.

Straight-lanced Meadow Katydid - Recording by Lisa Rainsong
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Adult season

Beginning of August until frost.

General description and context

These katydids seem to occur in small, scattered groups and are not widespread like Short-winged or Slender Meadow Katydids.   

I found a colony of Straight-lanced Meadow Katydids in an unexpected area on the Geauga/Lake County border: the former borrow pit for a now-closed Lake County landfill. It’s mostly gravel, though there is a little soil around the edges where the katydids live in grass and somewhat sparse, low vegetation.

Similar species

The wings of Straight-lanced Meadow Katydids are even shorter than those of the Short-winged Meadow Katydid. They also don't have dark yellow at the ends of their abdomens that one would see on Short-wingeds. The only other meadow katydid with a very long ovipositor is the Long-tailed Meadow Katydid, which is a wetland species that has a reddish body.

 

Field observation

Lake County Metroparks biologist John Pogacnik discovered a small population of Straight-lanced Meadow Katydids that range from brown to very dark brown. Although the color is quite different, the songs and the cerci are a perfect match for the common green form. You can read more about them in Listening in Nature. (see below).