Drumming Katydid (Meconema thalassinum)
Identification: A tiny katydid with a tympanum fully exposed on each foretibia. Forewings longer than hindwings. No stridulatory area apparent at base of male forewings. Length 14-19 mm.
Habitat: Deciduous trees and the vegetation beneath.
Season: July–Oct. One generation per year.
Song at 25°C: Males call at night by rapidly tapping one of the hind feet on the substrate, such as the surface of a leaf. The pad under the first tarsal segment of the male is hardened while that of the female is soft. The sound varies with the substrate but under favorable conditions it can be heard 12 feet away. A bout of drumming consists of several bursts, the initial ones being brief and the later ones lasting about 1 s. Foot impact frequency is ca. 43/s.
Similar Species: Meadow katydids (Conocephalinae) have the tympanum visible only through slits in the expanded foretibia; males have conspicuous stridulatory areas on the forewings. False katydids (Phaneropterinae) are larger and the hindwings are often longer than the forewings.
Remarks: The drumming katydid is native to Europe. It lays its eggs in crevices in bark and may have been imported to the United States as eggs on woody ornamental plants. Whatever the means, by 1957 it had become established on western Long Island, New York, and by 1980 it had extended its range to Rhode Island and to Scarsdale and Ithaca, New York. It has since been reported as far east as Michigan in the northeast U.S. and in several localities in the vicinity of Vancouver on the West Coast.
No function has been proved for the male's drumming, and either the air-borne or the substrate-transmitted vibrations might be the more important. Stridulation, using minute teeth on the forewings, may also occur. If so, the signal is likely ultrasonic.
More information: subfamily Meconematinae
References: See subfamily page on SINA.
The Drumming Katydid (Meconema thalassinum) is native to Europe, where it is widely distributed, but has been established in the northeastern United States for half a century, having been first collected from western Long Island (New York) in 1957; it is now known from many areas in the northeast. It has also been recorded from northwestern North America (see map at the Singing Insects of North America website). This is a tiny katydid (14 to 19 mm), with forewings longer than hindwings and a fully exposed tympanum on each fore tibia. It has a yellow stripe running down the center of the pronotal disc; toward the rear of the thorax, this stripe is flanked by an orange and black dash. Male cerci are long, slender, and tubular, curving gently upward, and are often tipped with orange. Males have no stridulatory area evident at the base of their forewings. They call at night not by tegminal stridulation (i.e., rubbing together a "file" and "scraper", as most katydids do), but instead by rapidly tapping their hind legs on a substrate, such as a leaf surface. Under some conditions, this sound can be heard by a human as far as 3.5 meters away. A typical bout of drumming consists of several rapid bursts followed by several longer ones of about a second in duration. (Capinera et al. 2004; Himmelman and DiGiorgio 2009) It is possible that stridulation also occurs, using minute teeth on the forewings, but if so the signal is likely ultrasonic (T.J. Walker, Singing Insects of North America).
The Drumming Katydid is found in deciduous trees and on the vegetation beneath them. Females deposit their eggs in bark crevices and the presumably accidental introduction of this katydid to the United States may thus have occurred via the importation of eggs on woody ornamental plants. (Capinera et al. 2004) The Drumming Katydid feeds exclusively on other insects such as aphids and caterpillars (Bellmann and Luquet 1995).
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Year-round
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Meconema thalassinum
No available public DNA sequences.
Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Meconema thalassinum
Public Records: 3
Specimens with Barcodes: 8
Species With Barcodes: 1
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked
Meconema thalassinum is an insect in the family Tettigoniidae, known in North America as the drumming katydid and in Europe as the oak bush-cricket. It is native to Europe, but was introduced to the United States, becoming established first in the west of Long Island and having since extended its range there to Rhode Island and Scarsdale, Stony Brook, and Ithaca, New York .
M. thalassinum is a small bush cricket, reaching only 20 mm long, including the female's long ovipositor, although the antennae may reach a further 40 mm forwards . It lives in the foliage of trees, including oaks, where females lay eggs singly under the bark, and where males make an almost inaudible noise by drumming on leaves .
M. thalassinum is a host for the parasitic worm Spinochordodes tellinii. The parasite is able to change the behaviour of the insect making it more attracted to water when it is close to water. This is necessary because the parasite requires open water to complete its life cycle.
- Thomas J. Walker. "Drumming katydid: Meconema thalassinum (De Geer 1773)". Singing Insects of North America. University of Florida.
- Keith Edkins. "Oak bush-cricket Meconema thalassinum (De Geer 1773)". Retrieved 2007-08-30.
- "Oak bush-cricket - Meconema thalassinum". Natural England. Retrieved 2007-08-30.
- F. Thomas, A. Schmidt-Rhaesa, G. Martin, C. Manu, P. Durand & F. Renaud (May 2002). "Do hairworms (Nematomorpha) manipulate the water seeking behaviour of their terrestrial hosts?". Journal of Evolutionary Biology (Blackwell Science Ltd.) 15 (3): 356–361. doi:10.1046/j.1420-9101.2002.00410.x.
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