Orchelimum vulgareCommon Meadow Katydid

Geographic Range

The common field katydid can be found in 19 states within the United States. They are the most common and widespread member of the genus Orchelimum. They cover a large section of the United States extending south from Southern Canada all the way to regions of Northern Texas. They can be found as far west as Wyoming and Colorado(Drees and Jackman, 1998).


The Common Meadow Katydid is found in fields and low meadows. It prefers to perch on clumps of large grass (Hill, 1999). Its coloring allows it to blend in well in this environment better protecting it from predation. The climate for these insects must be somewhat moderate, not reaching extreme temperatures or humidity conditions.

Physical Description

O. vulgare is 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 the tall grassy areas of fields and meadows as its common name signifies. It is distinguishable by the long slender spines of the posternum. The tegmina of O. vulgare are slightly longer than the abdomen, and the wings are slightly shorter(Arnett 1985, Hill 1999).

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


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.


Females choose their mates based on cues from male calls and generally only mate once. Males call in order to advertise the resources of his location.

The female O. vulgare 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. The offspring undergoes an incomplete metamorphosis. It reaches maturity towards the end of July and lives until the beginning of October.(Hill 1999,Gangwere, et al 1997).

  • 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


  • Range lifespan
    Status: wild
    1.0 (high) years


The common field katydid is a very loud diurnal singer. Most katydids have specialized hearing organs and thoracic auditory interneurons. O. vulgare has tympanal organs located in the openings of the foretibiae. It has anterior and posterior membranes on the tympanal organs which are backed by a tracheal branch and separated by Athin Septum(Gangwere, et al 1997). The sound an O. vulgare insect makes 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." The songs differ somewhat with night and day (Hill 1999).

Communication and Perception

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

Food Habits

O. vulgare is polyphagous, eating many different kinds of plants. One hypothesis states that it uses a type of chemical test on the waxy cuticle of the plant to determine if it will eat it. This is often followed by a test bite(Gangwere, et al 1997). It has also been observed that they may be carnivorous on certain occasions, eating moths, soldier beetles, or other Katydids. One O. vulgare female was observed eating her mate. She held him between her legs and ate a hole into his back, allowing her to eat many of the soft parts of the body (Hill 1999, Helfer 1963). Katydids of all kinds will adapt to many different sources of food. They are sometimes known to attack crops or other cultivated vegetation.


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).

Ecosystem Roles

Katydids are an important food source for insectivores.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

O. vulgare is one of the best species to use for studies in bioacoustics.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

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

Conservation Status

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. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


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 http://www.discoverlife.org/nh/tx/Orthoptera/00/Tettigoniidae/00/Orchelimum/vulgare/index.html.