Tuesday, September 8, 2009


When you hear the word conehead; perhaps it puts images in your head of Saturday Night Live and those wacky aliens from planet Remulak; played by Jane Curtain and Dan Aykroyd. In this case though I am referring to a genus of Katydid's called Neoconocephalus. I wonder if these insects is where the idea for alien coneheads was conceptualized? Most of the 14 species in this Genus of  coneheads are found in Eastern North America. They are easily identified by the somewhat "Pointed" look to their head. The wings extend out beyond the abdomen, and they can be either green or brown. Some species are quite large, and can reach lengths up 3 1/2 inches. The one pictured here was almost 3 inches.
Females have an extremely long ovipositor, that they use to deposit eggs into clumps of grasses. Generally speaking the eggs will overwinter and hatch in the spring. The young nymphs look very similar to the adults. They can be found in most grassy habitats, including meadows, marshes, thickets and even cornfields. Adults eat seeds of grasses and sometimes sedges. The young nymphs feed on grass flowers and developing seeds. If mishandled they can bite, so best to handle with care.


  1. Even when handled with care and respect those little suckers can bite! Not that I speak from personal experience or anything... ;)

  2. LOL.....Please do tell...I'm dying to know what happened.
    I always try to warn people if I know a certain insect has the potential to be aggressive, or bite or sting. I hate for people to find out the hard way. That is how we end up with so many insect-haters, it only takes one bad experience.

  3. Nothing too spectacular to tell, but here goes...I happened upon a katydid on some river cane. It was a species that I was not familiar with so I ever so carefully placed it in a jar and took it inside. There was no time to ID it right away so it ended up spending the night in the jar. By morning it had molted! Turns out it was a female Slightly Musical Conehead - Neoconocephalus exiliscanorus. I gave her a few hours to harden and then brought her out to release her. She seemed content to rest on my finger so I took the opportunity to take a couple of pictures. Little did I know that she wasn't just resting, she was plotting! With slow deliberation she lowered her mighty mandibles to my finger and proceeded to bite me. Since she was so freshly molted, I was afraid to try to fling her off -- as a result I just sort of stood there until she was satisfied that I was sufficiently bitten. When she let go, I put her down. Lesson learned.

  4. Oh my goodness....I'm afraid you are much more gracious than I would have been. Had that ungracious little upstart sunk her mandibles into me, I'm afraid I would have flicked, flung or otherwise sent her flying into the nether regions! I shall remember----DO NOT handle katydids!