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Common Meadow Katydid

Orchelimum vulgare

What do they look like?

Adult Common Field Katydids are generally 30-35 mm in length. The body is a deep green color and the legs are pale brown. This color scheme helps it to blend into tall grassy areas of fields and meadows. The front wings of the Common Field Katydid are slightly longer than the abdomen, and the hind wings are slightly shorter. The female has a long sharp structure on the end of her abdomen that she uses to put her eggs in plant stems.

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • female larger
  • Range length
    30.0 to 35.0 mm
    1.18 to 1.38 in

Where do they live?

This species ranges from eastern Texas north to southern Manitoba, east to southern Maine, south to North Carolina, and then southwest to Louisiana. It is not found in South Carolina, southern Georgia, Florida, or southern Alabama.

What kind of habitat do they need?

Common Field Katydids are found in fields, meadows, and other places where there is tall grass. They prefer to perch in large clumps of grass and climb on plants, and avoid climbing down to the ground if they can.

  • These animals are found in the following types of habitat
  • temperate

How do they grow?

Female meadow katydids lay eggs in the late summer or early fall. The little katydid nymphs stay dormant in their eggs through the winter, and emerge in late spring. They look like smaller versions of the adults, except that they have no wings. As they grow, they molt (shed their whole skin at once) several times. After their last molt, they become adults having wings, and are ready to reproduce. The adults live until the weather gets too cold (below freezing). In the southern, warmer part of its range, this species grows and reproduces faster, and there may be more than one generation per year.

How do they reproduce?

The female Common Field Katydid will search out a "perfect" plant to lay her eggs in, chewing holes into several stems before she is satisfied. When she decides on a plant, she turns around to place her ovipositor in the hole where she lays her eggs. She then chews the hole back together.

  • Breeding season
    Summer
  • Range gestation period
    240.0 (high) days
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    1.0 to 3.0 months
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    1.0 to 3.0 months
  • Parental Investment
  • no parental involvement

How long do they live?

  • Range lifespan
    Status: wild
    1.0 (high) years

How do they behave?

This species doesn't move around too much in the day, but it does sing loudly then. At night it moves around more to find food.

The Common Field Katydid is a very loud diurnal (during the day) singer. The sound they make is distinct from that of all other types of katydids and grasshoppers. The song begins with a "zeeeee" lasting three seconds, a pause for five seconds, and a series of "zips." They sing faster and louder when they are warmed up than when they are cool, and their songs differ somewhat with night and day.

How do they communicate with each other?

Male katydids rub their wings together to make sounds and call to females. Both males and females have ears on their legs!

What do they eat?

Common field katydids mainly eat the leaves of plants. Before eating, they taste their food with chemical sensors on their mouthparts. This is often followed by a test bite. Although they mostly eat leaves, katydids sometimes eat fruit, dead insects, or even small live insects like aphids if they are slow and easy to catch.

What eats them and how do they avoid being eaten?

These katydids are good at hiding. They have camouflage colors, and keep still when predators are near. They can hop fast if they need to, but cannot fly (they use their wings for calling).

What roles do they have in the ecosystem?

Katydids are an important food source for insectivores.

Do they cause problems?

Katydids sometimes eat garden plants or crops, but they don't usually do enough damage to be important.

How do they interact with us?

Common Field Katydids are often used in the study of how animals make and use sounds

Are they endangered?

This species is common and widespread, so does not need any special protection.

Contributors

Katherine Rainey (author), Southwestern University, Stephanie Fabritius (editor), Southwestern University.

References

Arnett, R. 1985. American Insects, A Handbook of the Insects of America north of Mexico. New York, New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company Inc..

Drees, B., J. Jackman. 1998. A Field Guide to Common Texas Insects. Houston, TX: Gulf Publishing Company.

Gangwere, S., M. Muralirangan, M. Muralirangan. 1997. The Bionomics of Grasshoppers, Katydids, and their Kin. NY, NY: CAB International.

Helfer, J. 1963. The Grasshopper, Cockroaches and their Allies. NY, NY: WM.C. Brown..

Hill, J. "Orchlimum vulgare (Harris)" (On-line). Accessed February 25, 1999 at http://www.discoverlife.org/nh/tx/Orthoptera/00/Tettigoniidae/00/Orchelimum/vulgare/index.html.

 
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Rainey, K. 2002. "Orchelimum vulgare" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed September 19, 2014 at http://www.biokids.umich.edu/accounts/Orchelimum_vulgare/

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
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