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.

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2 Comments

  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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