Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
Clickable Guide
Moths Butterflies Flies Caterpillars Flies Dragonflies Flies Mantids Cockroaches Bees and Wasps Walkingsticks Earwigs Ants Termites Hoppers and Kin Hoppers and Kin Beetles True Bugs Fleas Grasshoppers and Kin Ticks Spiders Scorpions Centipedes Millipedes

Upcoming Events

See Moth submissions from National Moth Week 2023

Photos of insects and people from the 2022 BugGuide gathering in New Mexico, July 20-24

Photos of insects and people from the Spring 2021 gathering in Louisiana, April 28-May 2

Photos of insects and people from the 2019 gathering in Louisiana, July 25-27

Photos of insects and people from the 2018 gathering in Virginia, July 27-29

Photos of insects and people from the 2015 gathering in Wisconsin, July 10-12

Previous events


Suborder Ensifera - Long-horned Orthoptera

Common Meadow Katydid - Orchelimum vulgare - female Narrow-Winged Tree Cricket Head Detail - Oecanthus niveus - female Bush Katydid Nymph - Scudderia mexicana Katydid? Cricket? Long Antenae and Long Legs - Scudderia - male Broad-tipped Conehead Katydid - Neoconocephalus triops Gryllidae - Oecanthus sp? - Oecanthus - male G. sigillatus? - Gryllodes sigillatus - female Katydid ? - Capnobotes fuliginosus - female
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Orthoptera (Grasshoppers, Crickets, Katydids)
Suborder Ensifera (Long-horned Orthoptera)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Grylloptera D.K.M. Kevan, 1973 [as order equivalent to Ensifera in content; with Orthoptera restricted to equivalent of Caelifera]
Locustoidea sensu Handlirsch. 1906
Explanation of Names
Ander (1939) first divided the Orthoptera into suborders Caelifera and Ensifera (OSF).
Ensifera is Latin for sword-bearing, and refers to the sword-like ovipositor typical of this group.
Approximately 10 families and 1,200 species in North America. Worldwide, more than 15,000 species (1).
A diverse group, including the familiar katydids and crickets, plus lesser-known groups. Characteristics:
hind femora usually only somewhat enlarged (compare large femora of Caelifera)
antennae thread-like, with more than 30 segments (fewer than 30 in Caelifera)
ovipositor long, sword-like (sometimes needle-like), internally has 6 valves--4 in Caelifera (Tree of Life)
tarsi with 3-4 segments
in "singing" families, forewings are modified for stridulation, having a toothed vein (file) and scraper, plus membranous areas that resonate and amplify the sounds
tympanum (hearing organ) on the front tibia in most groups (or absent) [on side of base of abdomen in Caelifera]

Some examples of ovipositors:

Images showing the stridulatory apparatus and tympanum in a member of the Tettigoniidae, Microcentrum retinerve:
Many are herbivores or scavengers; some are carnivores.
Life Cycle
Typically nocturnal. In many groups, individuals live for more than one year.
Among the Ensifera are the most musical of "singing insects". Many species are loved (or hated) for the "songs" they produce, and in some parts of the world there is a long-standing tradition of keeping various Ensiferans (particularly certain Crickets or Katydids) as pets.

The Ensifera can be divided into two basic groups that some would consider superfamilies infraorders, or even orders; however, the treatment seen in the Orthoptera Species File does not reflect this major division, rather dividing the Ensifera into multiple superfamilies with the Crickets - Grylloidea - representing only one of them. The Crickets stand out from the rest in their distinctive morphology, and apparently equally so in molecular phylogenetics studies. Some authorities (especially in Asia) are recognizing the Crickets as a distinct order, the Gryllodea. Here a traditional treatment is followed, for now.

The Crickets are distinguished almost universally by the dorso-ventral flattening of the body. When there are wings, the tegmina are basically membranous and only slightly thickened, with the dorsal field (as observed when folded) much larger than the lateral protion. The tarsi are made up of three segments (as apposed to four). The cerci are long and slender. The ovipositor is flexible and needle-like with an enlarged tip (as apposed to thick, stout, and rather sickle or sword-like (or reduced) in other groups); except, Ant Crickets have a shorter somewhat stout ovipositor with the valves enlarged or flared at the tip. The song produced by males is usually distinctly musical to human ears (as apposed to rather non-musical and ticking or rasping in most other groups). And, so on.

The remaining families of Ensifera are a varied lot, and difficult to characterize as a single group by shared traits, but they are not as above. However, when it is fully developed, the ovipositor is stout, "sword-like", and flattened laterally; and, the body is usually stout and cylindrical or narrower than high in shape.

The higher classification within the Ensifera, and in fact for many groups of Insects, is in a state of flux currently. With the advent of various newer methods of compiling and testing data, not the least of which is molecular phylogenetics, the rankings and arrangements of groups are often being questioned and changed. This has lead to almost as many different treatments as there are authors studying these groups. It will be interesting to see how the groups within the Ensifera will eventually sort out.

The treatment followed here for families of Ensifera is that of the Orthoptera Species File, except superfamilies are not listed (due to confused, conflicted, and frequently changing treatments in published literature), and with the addition of a more "traditional" split into two infraorders for convenience (only families occurring in the area covered by BugGuide are listed):

GRYLLIDEA - including all "True Crickets":
Family Gryllidae - True Crickets
Family Gryllotalpidae - Mole Crickets
Family Mogoplistidae - Scaly Crickets
Family Myrmecophilidae - Ant Crickets

TETTIGONIIDEA - including the rest:
Family Anostostomatidae - Wetas & King Crickets
Family Gryllacrididae - Raspy Crickets
Family Prophalangopsidae - Hump-winged Crickets
Family Rhaphidophoridae - Camel Crickets
Family Stenopelmatidae - Jerusalem Crickets
Family Tettigoniidae - Katydids
See Also
Caelifera - Grasshoppers

Taxonomy Proposals topic here
Print References
Bland, pp. 90-91 (1)
Castner, p. 66 (2)
Ander, 1939. Opuscula Entomologica, Lund. 2(Suppl.): 306 pp., division of order Orthoptera into two suborders (quoted by OSF)
Legendre, Robillard Song, Whiting, & Desutter-Grandcolas, 2009. 'One Hundred Years of Instability in Ensiferan Relationships', Sytematic Entomology 35: 475-488
Internet References
classification plus literature citations, synonyms, included taxa (Orthoptera Species File)
Works Cited
1.How to Know the Insects
Roger G. Bland, H.E. Jaques. 1978. WCB/McGraw-Hill.
2.Photographic Atlas of Entomology and Guide To Insect Identification
James L. Castner. 2000. Feline Press.