Slender Meadow Katydid

by Carl Strang

Last Friday at Mayslake Forest Preserve I took out the SongFinder to try and find new singing insects to add to the preserve list and to my own experience. While passing the edge of the prairie I heard a song which had the tick-and-buzz pattern of meadow katydid songs. With the device set to divide pitch frequency by a factor of four, I heard a deep rattling buzz, lasting up to 10 seconds or more but often much shorter, preceded by 3-4 fuzzy-edged ticks. I could hear the song with the SongFinder set to divide pitch frequency in half, but it was faint and very high pitched to my ear.

I selected the closest of the three individuals I could hear, and began looking for it. This is possible, given the feature of two tiny microphones, one attached to each earphone, but it takes practice. Also, I didn’t know exactly what I was looking for. Eventually I found a small meadow katydid, but the wings didn’t seem to be vibrating. Whenever it changed position under my scrutiny the song stopped, however, and I concluded that this was the singer. After flushing and having to re-find it a few times, I finally got a photo.

A more straight-on lateral view would reveal that the wings protrude well beyond the tip of the abdomen. It proved to be a slender meadow katydid, a species I had seen before but never had heard singing. I learned a few things about it while stalking it. It clearly preferred singing perches on the stems of goldenrods, despite choices of many plants with other structural features. I had gone more than 50m before encountering this little group, and will be interested in seeing if such clustering is typical of that species in our area.


  1. August 24, 2010 at 6:10 am

    […] them. Thanks to the SongFinder I have found two of these, the short-winged meadow katydid and the slender meadow katydid. Last week I employed another technique in this search: the sweep […]

  2. August 15, 2011 at 5:58 am

    […] out how well kids could hear species I cannot hear without this device. I led them to an area where slender meadow katydids  were singing. I was mildly chagrined to learn that not only the kids heard them, but so did their […]

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