Black-Legged Meadow Katydid

Orchelimum nigripes

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Black-legged meadow katydid female
The black-legged meadow katydid (Orchelimum nigripes) is a strikingly marked katydid that hides among foliage. It is secretive and quick to hop away or move to the other side of a plant stem.
Shelly Cox
Family

Tettigoniidae (katydids) in the order Orthoptera (grasshoppers, katydids, crickets)

Description

The black-legged meadow katydid is one of our most beautiful native katydids. A medium-sized grasshopper-like insect, it has a blue-green body, red eyes, and long black hind legs. The call begins with two or three "tics" followed by a gradually widening buzz: tic-tic buzzzzzzzzz, tic-tic-tic buzzzzzzzzz.

Learn more about this and other katydids on their group page.

Size

Length: 1–1½ inches.

Habitat and conservation

Walking in tall grasses, you catch a glimpse of movement. Closer inspection reveals a gorgeous, strikingly marked katydid hiding among the foliage. These secretive katydids are quick to hop away or move to the other side of a plant stem.

Usually found in prairies, meadows, grassy and weedy areas, backyard gardens, and wetlands. They seem to prefer moist, grassy, marshy areas.

Foods

This species feeds on various types of grasses. Occasionally it may become a pest of gardens.

image of Black-Legged Meadow Katydid Distribution Map
Distribution in Missouri

Statewide.

Life cycle

As with most members of the katydid family, males sing to attract females. Each species has a distinct song, which makes it possible to identify them by song alone (just as birders can identify unseen birds by their calls). Females lay their eggs within plant tissue or sometimes in the soil.

Human connections

These katydids are harmless to humans. Their songs add to nature's symphony. This species also provides a fun game for observers, who play "ring-around-the-rosy" with the katydid as it circles around the opposite side of a plant, hiding from view.

Ecosystem connections

Although they can become an occasional pest in gardens, where they can feed on a wide variety of plants, they are not known to cause significant damage.