Sword-bearing Conehead

There is an insect call that I often hear outside my window in the summer, which always sounds like a samba rhythm to me (but that’s probably just me). A while ago I identified it as a “sword-bearing conehead” (Tettigoniidae: Neoconocephalus ensiger) by listening to a CD of insect sounds. Although this is one of the more memorable common names I’ve heard for an insect, somehow I’d never gotten around to looking up what this nighttime percussionist actually looked like. But as soon as I saw this katydid sitting on my deck last September, I was sure that’s who I was looking at.


This is a female, so she wasn’t actually one of the ones I’d been hearing, but her long, sharp ovipositor is the reason for the “sword-bearing” part of the name. The “conehead” part is self-explanatory.


I thought her distinctive face was worthy of a portrait. The reddish “eyebrow” makes her seem to be glaring suspiciously at the camera.

About Charley Eiseman

I am a freelance naturalist, endlessly fascinated by the interconnections of all the living and nonliving things around me. I am the lead author of Tracks & Sign of Insects and Other Invertebrates (Stackpole Books, 2010), and continue to collect photographs and information on this subject. These days I am especially drawn to galls, leaf mines, and other plant-insect interactions.
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5 Responses to Sword-bearing Conehead

  1. Brian Stewart says:

    They’re from France!!

    Thank you for that little bit of summer on a mighty cold day, when my son and I froze our butts off carrying anti-Keystone placards in Hartford.

    Cheers, and Happy New Year! Brian

  2. Totally awesome Charlie! Thank you.
    Here’s a link to the sound: http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/walker/buzz/194a.htm

  3. jezziebezzie says:

    Charley, every visit here, I’m inspired to look a little longer & a little more closely at the “small stuff” when I go outside. I forget a lot how privileged I am, in ways both large & small, to live in Canada.

  4. Sue Cloutier says:

    Again, you captured my interest, Charlie. Thank you. I went to Google and found this link so I could check out their calls. http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/walker/buzz/194a.htm

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