Easily recognized by their slanted faces and pointed or rounded cones that extend from their foreheads, the conehead katydids look like insect battering-rams, ready to poke holes in whatever gets in their way. (Actually, scientists do not know the adaptive significance of the cones.) Coneheads have long and slender wings, and most are strong fliers. While some species are only an inch long, others grow to nearly 3 inches in length, ranking them among the longest of our native katydids. Nearly all species occur in two color phases, green and brown, with proportions of the two color phases varying widely between species. This variation in color has not been carefully studied, but it is thought to be adaptive, perhaps making it more difficult for predators, such as birds, to develop a stable search image of their prey. There are even rare yellow forms that can occasionally be found. These are thought to be similar to albinism, a recessive genetic trait that is expressed in these few individuals.

Rare yellow-form of Robust Conehead.

There are twenty-two species of coneheads in North America, represented by four genera. While most are eastern in distribution, a number are confined to the South-east, and some are found only in southern Florida. In this guide, we feature six species of the genus Neoconocephalus, all of which are fairly common and widespread. Inhabiting tall grass, weedy fields, and shrubby edges, male coneheads sing mostly at night and have loud raspy or buzzy songs. They are easy to find and catch but do not make good pets, because their songs are too loud and penetrating to be tolerated in a household. The best way to identify a conehead is to look closely at the shape of its cone and note the pattern of dark coloration when it occurs. This diagram shows the undersides of the cones of the species included in this guide.


* Drawing made from artwork provided by Thomas J. Walker.


Our Insect Musicians:

Thumbnail Guide to All Species

Navigate to Species Pages:

Grasshoppers (Locusts)