Comprehensive DescriptionRead full entry
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).