BioKIDS home

Kids' Inquiry of Diverse Species

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
  • 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.


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



living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends.


an animal that mainly eats meat


active at dawn and dusk

  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.

animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


marshes are wetland areas often dominated by grasses and reeds.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


active during the night


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.


having more than one female as a mate at one time

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


remains in the same area


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


lives alone


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement


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

University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

BioKIDS home  |  Questions?  |  Animal Diversity Web  |  Cybertracker Tools

Rainey, K. 2002. "Orchelimum vulgare" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 17, 2014 at

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.
Copyright © 2002-2014, The Regents of the University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

University of Michigan