British Insects: the Families of Orthoptera

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz

Conocephalus Thunberg

Xiphidion Serville.

Adults 11–18 mm long (C. dorsalis), or 16–22 mm long (C. discolor); usually green with brown wings and a brown stripe on the head and pronotum; the abdomen usually reddish brown beneath in C. discolor and yellowish brown in C. dorsalis, but sometimes all-brown in both species; green with brown wings and a brown dorsal stripe, or rarely all brown.

The antennae long, with well over 30 segments. The pronotum not dorsally keeled. Forewings well developed; greatly exceeding the abdomen when folded (excluding terminal abdominal appendages) to about equalling the abdomen (neither much longer nor much shorter) (in C. discolor), or about equalling the abdomen (neither much longer nor much shorter) to much shorter than the abdomen (in C. dorsalis). Hindwings fully developed and functional for flight (in C. discolor), or reduced or vestigial (usually, in C. dorsalis). Foreleg tarsi 4 segmented; mid-leg tarsi 4 segmented; hindleg tarsi 4 segmented. The hind femora smooth. The ovipositor relatively long, with the valves articulated along their length and forming a single structure; 8–9 mm long (almost straight in C. discolor, slightly upcurved in C. dorsalis). The males stridulous. The sound production of the males alary, involving scraping the forewings together, the latter being structurally modified to this end. Auditory organs located in the fore-tibiae (sometimes partly covered by a ventral flap). The male cerci with an inner tooth near the middle.

British representation. 2 species. Conocephalus discolor (Long-winged Cone-head), C. dorsalis (Short-winged Cone-head). Native. Northern England, East Anglia, Wales, southeast England, central southern England, southwest England, Isle of Wight, and Channel Islands (with C. discolor confined to southeast and central southern England).

Omnivorous but principally vegetarian (C. discolor feeding mainly on grasses but also eating aphids and small caterpillars, C. dorsalis mainly on buds, flowers and seed-heads of sedges and rushes); found outdoors in natural habitats (C. discolor occurs in various types of coarse herbaceous vegetation in warm localities, while C. dorsalis is found in coastal salt-marsh and sand dunes, and in wet and marshy places inland).

Classification. Suborder Ensifera; Superfamily Tettigonioidea; Conocephalidae.

Comments. The first and second tarsal segments laterally grooved.

Illustrations. • Conocephalus and Pholidoptera (Lucas). • Conocephalidae, Meconematidae, Phaneropteridae, Tettigoniidae: Burr.


To view the illustrations with detailed captions, go to the interactive key. This also offers full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting or lacking specified attributes, and distributions of character states within any set of taxa.

Cite this publication as: ‘Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2003 onwards. British insects: the families of Orthoptera. Version: 12th February 2012. http://delta-intkey.com’.

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