Subject: Is this a Katydid? And did it bite me?
Geographic location of the bug: Winterset, Iowa
Time: 12:57 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: I found this insect in my pants (it must have crawled up the inside) after feeling a sharp stab like a needle on my leg. I was out in the tall grass and it must have crawled up my leg. I believe it’s a female Katydid but what caused the sharp pain? Did it bite me or stab me?
How you want your letter signed: Farmer Outstanding in her Field
Dear Farmer Outstanding in her Field,
Generally when we think of bites, we think of breaking of the skin, and when we think of stabs, our mind conjures up the loss of blood. Eric Eaton told us once that if it has a mouth, it can bite, but most insects don’t have a bite that will break the skin, and the bite feels more like a pinch. This is indeed a Katydid, more specifically a Common Conehead in the genus Neoconocephalus, and BugGuide does indicate “May bite when handled.” The ovipositor is an indication this is a female and she uses her ovipositor to lay eggs, so it is rather stiff, and the pressure against the skin could feel like a pinch, but we doubt it will break the skin. We suspect the pain you felt was short-lived and you didn’t lose any blood, so between the two choices, the evidence points to a bite. The Round-tipped Conehead, Neoconocephalus retusus, which is pictured on BugGuide is one possibility for the species, and BugGuide indicates the habitat is “Dry to fairly wet grassy or weedy open areas-roadsides, old fields, edges of marshes.” The Sword-bearing Conehead, Neoconocephalus ensiger, also pictured on BugGuide, is another possibility. There are additional species found in your area, and we don’t think we will be able to provide you with an exact species, so we hope the genus and the general name Common Conehead will suffice.