Are Katydids Harmful? Debunking Myths and Revealing Facts

Katydids are fascinating insects known for their unique appearance and distinct nocturnal sounds.

Belonging to the family of grasshoppers and crickets, these creatures often sport green hues which mimic the vegetation they inhabit.

Many people might wonder if katydids pose any harm to humans, given their larger size compared to other insects.

With thousands of species scattered across the globe, katydids exhibit a range of fascinating characteristics like anti-predator defenses, including crypsis, mimicry, and a strong bite.

However, these traits are typically used for predators and not humans.

We are going to explore the impact of katydids on humans and plants in this article.

Are Katydids Harmful To Humans?

Katydids are generally harmless to humans as they do not bite or pose any significant threat.

Sometimes, larger katydid species might resort to pinching or biting if they perceive a threat. Their bites are unlikely to puncture the skin and are usually no more discomforting than a mosquito bite.

The likelihood of being bitten remains quite low unless you handle them directly with your uncovered hands. There is no need for medical help as their bites are not poisonous.

Impact on Plants and Gardens

While katydids are leaf-eaters, they typically do not cause severe damage to plants. Some examples of their diet include:

  • Leaves
  • Flower petals
  • Small fruits

However, in rare cases, large populations may lead to noticeable damage in gardens and crops, though this is usually not a significant issue.

Threat to Pets

Katydids are not known to pose any direct threat to pets.

They are larger insects that mostly feed on smaller insects and plant matter. Their main defense mechanism is camouflage, rather than being dangerous predators.

Table comparing katydids to other insects

InsectHarmful to HumansHarmful to PetsHarmful to Plants
KatydidsNoNoMinor damage
MosquitoesYes (disease transmission)Yes (heartworm)No
AphidsNoNoYes (crop damage)

Therefore, katydids are mostly harmless creatures that do not pose any significant danger to humans, plants, or pets.

They may cause minor damage to crops, but their impact is negligible when it comes to personal safety.

Their presence in gardens and outdoor spaces contributes to the natural balance of the ecosystem.

Katydids: Appearance and Habitat

Katydids, also known as long-horned grasshoppers, bush crickets or coneheads, are recognizable by their green, leaf-like appearance.

Their size varies from 1.5 to 2.5 inches in length, but some species can grow longer.

They often have distinctive features such as bright yellow cerci at the abdomen tip and black and yellow legs.

Some of their characteristics include:

  • Leaf-green color
  • Broad wings that blend with vegetation
  • Strong bite

Relation to Grasshoppers and Crickets

Katydids are part of the cricket family, making them closely related to grasshoppers and crickets.

Although they share similarities like producing sounds by rubbing their wings, there are some differences between them.

Table comparing katydids, grasshoppers, and crickets

FeatureKatydidsGrasshoppersCrickets
WingsLong, leaf-likeShort, narrowerShort or long, depending on the species
LegsLong, adapted for climbingStrong, for jumpingLong, for jumping
SoundsHigh-pitched, trilling or tickingShort, raspy or snappingMelodious chirping

Habitats and Distribution

Katydids can be found on every continent, including North America and the Amazon rainforest.

They mainly inhabit deciduous trees in oak-hickory forests, parks, and yards. However, their habitats and specific behaviors may vary depending on the climate and region.

Garden Damage and Control Measures

Katydids are plant-eating insects that feed on leaves, pollen, and flowers, rarely causing significant damage to gardens.

However, some katydid species might inflict damage to crops and trees.

Signs of katydid damage include:

  • Chewed leaves with irregular holes
  • Consumed flowers and buds
  • Damaged fruits and vegetables

Preventing and Deterring Katydids

To prevent and deter katydids from damaging your garden, here are a few strategies:

  1. Keeping the garden clean and well-maintained: Remove any plant debris, and mow tall grass near garden areas to eliminate potential hiding spots.
  2. Providing barriers: Netting and protective covers can be used to protect crops and young plants.
  3. Encouraging natural predators: Attract birds and beneficial insects like ladybugs, which prey on katydids and their eggs.

Natural and Chemical Control Methods

Both natural and chemical methods can be effective for controlling katydids.

Pros and cons of control measures

MethodProsCons
Natural predatorsEnvironmentally friendly, no chemicalsMight not provide immediate relief
Insecticidal soaps or spraysLess toxic, target specific pestsMight harm some beneficial insects
Chemical pesticides (dusts, granules, pellets)Provides fast results, long-lasting effectsHarmful to insects, humans, and the environment if used improperly

Insect-Repelling Plants

Some plants have natural insect-repellant properties, and they can repel katydids or other insects. Examples of such plants include:

  • Chrysanthemum: Contains compounds toxic to insects, including pyrethroids, which are safe for humans and used in medicine.
  • Lavender: Known for its pleasant scent, repels insects including katydids due to its strong smell.
  • Garlic: Acts as a natural insect-repellant when crushed and mixed with water to create garlic spray.
  • Cilantro: Emits a strong odor, repelling various insects, including katydids.
PlantInsect-Repelling Properties
ChrysanthemumContains toxic compounds for insects
LavenderHas a strong smell that repels insects
GarlicCan be turned into a spray to repel insects
CilantroEmits a strong odor, repelling various pests

For best results, combine multiple control methods and apply them judiciously.

Always follow the instructions on any pesticide labels, Make sure to use them sparingly to avoid harm to beneficial insects and reduce potential risks to humans and the environment.

Insect traps can also be used to monitor and control katydid populations.

Beneficial Aspects of Katydids

Role in the Ecosystem

Katydids play an essential role in the ecosystem. These benefits include:

  • Serve as food for many animals, such as frogs, birds, and bats.
  • Help in pollination by feeding on nectar and transferring pollen between flowers.

Natural Pest Control

Katydids, being gentle insects that feed on plants, can also sometimes be considered beneficial in regulated numbers.

They help control the population of smaller insects that might cause more severe damage to gardens or crops.

In this way, their presence can contribute to a balanced ecosystem and reduce the need for synthetic pesticides.

Fascinating Katydid Facts

Unique Markings and Colors

Katydids exhibit a variety of markings and colors that help them blend in with their environment and avoid predators.

For example, the Black-legged meadow katydid has distinctive black and yellow legs, with a mottled white face and a bluer green body than typical katydids.

Some species have leaf-like wings with prominent veins. Katydids come in different colors, including green, brown, pink, and yellow.

Sounds and Mating Calls

Katydids are known for their interesting sounds and mating calls. Males produce these sounds by rubbing their wings together, creating a distinctive chirping noise.

The speed at which they “sing” varies with temperature, as they are cold-blooded insects, singing slower at cooler temperatures.

Unusual Species

One unusual species of katydids is the broad-winged katydid, which has unique characteristics not commonly found in other types of katydids.

Some key features of the broad-winged katydid include its larger size, powerful back legs, and elongated antennae.

Broad-Winged Katydid Vs. Other Katydids

FeatureBroad-Winged KatydidOther Katydids
SizeLargerSmaller
Back LegsPowerfulLess powerful
Antennae LengthElongatedShorter

Conclusion

Katydids, with their distinctive appearance and enchanting nocturnal calls, captivate our curiosity.

While some larger katydid species might pinch or bite when threatened, their bites are akin to mosquito bites, rarely breaking the skin. Thus, the risk of being bitten remains low unless directly handled.

Their minor impact on plants and gardens, along with their unique adaptations, showcases their beneficial role in ecosystems.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about Katydids. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – 32 Spotted Katydid from Australia

32 Spotted Katydid
Location: Quensland Australia
January 2, 2011 6:27 pm
Happy New Year guys.
It’s been wet, wet, wet, here in Queensland but finally a bit of sunshine today.

This katydid (Ephippitytha trigintiduoguttata) is not usually seen in the adult phase as it prefers to feed on leaves at the top of gum trees but I was lucky to find this one on some regrowth close to the ground. Quite a looker, hope you like the shots.
Signature: aussietrev

32 Spotted Katydid

Happy New Year Trevor,
Thanks so much for sending us these wonderful photos of the magnificent 32 Spotted Katydid.  We will try to find a link to additional information tomorrow.

Update: January 3, 2011
The Insects of Brisbane website has a nice set of images of the 32 Spotted Katydid.

Letter 2 – Another Pink Katydid

Pink Katydid
We see a few pink katydids here in Missouri also. I’m sending a picture of one taken at Taum Sauk Mountain Natural Area.
John

Hi John,
Thanks for the image. To add to what we wrote before, Eric Eaton agrees with us that this is Amblycorypha oblongifolia and added that the previous image as well as yours are of immature males.

Letter 3 – American Shieldback Katydid

Subject: Possible grasshopper?
Location: Camden county, Georgia
August 3, 2017 12:57 pm
This was found in my front yard. I have found pictures of tan grasshoppers, but not with the black stripe by the head.
Signature: Stephanie

American Shieldback Katydid

Dear Stephanie,
Katydids resemble Grasshoppers and they are classified together in the same order Orthoptera, and they can be distinguished from one another because Katydids have much longer antennae. 

We believe we have correctly identified your individual as an American Shieldback Katydid, Atlanticus americanus, thanks to this Bugguide image.  According to BugGuide it is a:  “Predator and scavenger of other insects, but will also feed on live vegetation.”

Letter 4 – Angle Wing Katydid

leafy… grasshopper?
Location: Medford MA
September 20, 2011 8:34 pm
This bug clung to the roof of my husband’s car all the way home to Medford MA, from somewhere between his rehearsal in Somerville MA and home. He called me downstairs to the garage to see it, and insisted I bring my camera. It’s huge and walks with an odd gait.
Signature: Rachel Sommer

Angle Wing Katydid

Hi Rachel,
This is an Angle Wing Katydid in the genus
Microcentrum, and they are classified in the same insect order as grasshoppers, but within the order, they are not closely related.

Letter 5 – Angle-Wing Katydid

Subject: Grasshopper?

Location: Powell , Ohio
September 12, 2014 6:21 am
Dear bug man, not positive, is this a grasshopper? Thought his/her camoflouge looked really neat. These pics are the best I can do, since he’s sitting on poison ivy and I’m itching just looking at him.
Signature: Amber

Subject: Grasshopper, again
Location: Powell, Ohio
September 12, 2014 7:13 am
The grasshopper moved, took another pic, you can see his face in this one. Took it through the glass though, not going near that plant.
Signature: Amber

Angle-Wing Katydid
Angle-Wing Katydid

Dear Amber,
This sure looks to us like a Greater Angle-Wing KAtydid,
Microcentrum rhombifolium, though it is possible it might be another member of the genus.  See BugGuide for additional information on the Greater Angle-Wing Katydid. 

The major distinguishing feature that between Katydids and Grasshoppers is the appearance of the antennae, which are long and threadlike in the Katydids, and shorter and thicker in the Grasshoppers. Your second image shows the antennae.

Greater Angle-Wing Katydid
Greater Angle-Wing Katydid

Letter 6 – Angle-Winged Katydid

Beautiful Green Bug
May 27, 2010
Took two pictures of this very handsome green bug during late evening. Just finished watering my small garden and this guy was sitting on my fence.

He appeared to be washing his face and I did not want to disturb him. Think he might be a katydid of the genus Microcentrum. Please help me out. Thanks.
Curt
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Angle-Winged Katydid

Hi Curt,
This is a beautiful portrait of an Angle-Winged Katydid in the genus Microcentrum.  Nice job of identification.

Letter 7 – Angle Winged Katydid

Subject: Angle-Winged Katydid
Location: Pawtucket, RI
October 16, 2012 8:39 am
Just wanted to share this picture I took this morning of a fantastic looking Angle-Winged Katydid. It was just hanging out on the end of my grill brush my daughter actually thought it was a leaf until she saw it had legs. LOL
Signature: Kelly

Angle Winged Katydid

Hi Kelly,
This is such a nice photo of an Angle Winged Katydid.  They really are amazing masters of camouflage when they are feeding upon the leaves of deciduous trees.

Letter 8 – Angle Winged Katydid

Subject: bay leaf looking bug
Location: Portage, MI
October 16, 2012 12:00 pm
hello- we spotted this bug on our deck in mid-July in Portage,MI. It looks like 2 bay leaves stuck together. When it takes off to fly it almost looks like a fairy, flying in an upright position. We loved it and are interested in what it may be.
Thanks for your help.
Signature: Amy

Angle Winged Katydid

Hi Amy,
Initially we just fired back a quick identification for you since we had just posted another photo of an Angle Winged Katydid, but because that was a frontal view, and because your description was so thoughtful, we rescued your letter from the trash and decided to post your dorsal view as well. 

The cooks among our readers will agree that the Angle Winged Katydid does look like two bay leaves stuck together.

Thanks so much.  We love bugs and have fun with them. Thanks for your quick response.  Amy

Letter 9 – Angular Winged Katydid

O.K. my turn…..
Today, 8/23/06, 1 p.m. the young woman who works for me discovered this bug in one of the urban gardens we work.
It cooperated fully, and she has a way with bugs ! It blends in completely with the leaves, and when it tired of all the attention it jumped/flew? a foot or so. Looked at many categories but can’t find it on your entertaining & so educational website. Many thanks,
Colleen in Boston MA

Hi Colleen,
Here in Los Angeles, it is the 24th. We believe this is an Angular Winged Katydid, Microcentrum retinerve, or a closely related species. The males “sing”. The gloves in the photo are a nice artistic touch.

Letter 10 – Angular Winged Katydid Laying Eggs

its laying eggs
It laying eggs on my parents fence. I was told it is called a leafcutter, but I cannot find it anywhere online.

Since you did not tell us where in the world your parent’s fence is located, we are reluctant to go any further than to say this is a Katydid in the family Tettigoniidae. It is a great photo, and we will see if Eric Eaton and identify the species.

Hi, Daniel:
The katydid laying eggs is an angular-winged katydid in the genus Microcentrum (if it was photographed in North America), or a closely-related genus. Nice image of oviposition behavior!
Eric

I took those pictures in El Cajon, California. Sorry about forgetting that info. Thank you for writing back to me.
Joe

Update: (07/03/2008) Katydid IDs from Piotr Naskrecki
Hi,
I have been looking at the page with unidentified katydids (Katydids 2), and thought I could help with some ID’s. From top to bottom they are: Angle winged katydid – Microcentrum rhombifolium

Letter 11 – Another Bug of the Month for June, 2019: Katydid from Mexico

Subject:  North East Mexico Plague
Geographic location of the bug:  Monterrey
Date: 06/07/2019
Time: 12:38 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Worried about our forest, infestation of this insect. What is it what is the impact. Millions of these in our forest.
How you want your letter signed:  Raul

Katydid: Pterophylla beltrani

Dear Raul,
This is a gorgeous Katydid, and with a little searching, we are confident we have identified it as
Pterophylla beltrani  thanks to images and maps on iNaturalist.  We located an article entitled Geographic Distribution and Singing Activity of Pterophylla beltrani and P. robertsi (Orthoptera:  Tettigoniidae), Under Field Conditions where it states:  “Pterophylla beltrani, locally known as grilleta or false locust, constitutes an important forest pest in northern Mexico. 

Populations of this species began to increase … in 1975.”  Since this is a native, local insect for you, we have a problem thinking of the large numbers you witnessed this year as an infestation.  Rather, we prefer to think about it as a possible indication of climate change.  Some species might not survive a change in climate while others may thrive. 

At this point in time, Green New Deal or not, we believe that there has already been an irreversible effect on nature due to the changes, climactic and otherwise, that increasing populations of humans on planet Earth have created.  That stated, no one knows what the future will bring.

Letter 12 – Another Crested Katydid from Australia: Superb Katydid, Alectoria superba

Superb Katydid, Alectoria superba
And this is?
Stumbled across you site while trying to identify this hopper…. It’s a bit hard to tell in the photo, but he has a rounded raised ? behind his head which is very thin.

He looks similar to one that you posted on your site 02/19/2004 with an unknown coin – The coin is an Australian 10 cent piece (features a Lyre Bird on it). I’m in the Pilbara Region of Western Australia. Great site by the way
Dave Curtis
Newman WA

Hi Dave,
This is the third photo we have gotten of the Superb Katydid or Crested Katydid, Alectoria superba, this week.

Letter 13 – Another Crested Katydid from Australia: Superb Katydid, Alectoria superba

Superb Katydid, Alectoria superba
WTB
G’Day Bugman, I’ve been looking for a way to ID this grasshopper and came across your web page . Saw one that looks the same but there was no info.
Lets try with a bit more info. Location : Kookynie, Western Australia. North Eastern Goldfields 29/03/2006 Occasional appearance usually in Feb March when more than average rainfall is expected. Do you know what it is ?
Kevin Pusey

Hi Kevin,
We spent several hours researching online when the other photos arrived several days ago. Because of the antennae, we have decided this creature is in the family Tettigoniidae, the Long-Horned Grasshoppers and Katydids.

We are mystified that we could not identify this very distinct insect. Maybe your location information will help us find the answer. Perhaps what is necessary is a fieldguide to Australian insects. We have been toying with the idea of applying for grant money to embark on the What’s That Australian Bug? project, but that might just be an excuse to travel.

Update (03/29/2006) Moments later we got the following letter:
Hi Bugman, I noticed the picture of the ‘crested katydid’ you had been sent from Australia. I believe this is the Superb Katydid (Alectoria superba). Hope this is of help. Keep up the good work.
Aaron in London, UK

Letter 14 – Armored Ground Cricket from Namibia

Subject: Orthoptera
Location: South Namibia
November 30, 2014 10:34 am
This big insect (about 6 cm) was dead and injured (in october).
Signature: visitor

Armored Ground Cricket
Armored Ground Cricket

Dear visitor,
This is an Armored Ground Cricket or Armored Bush Cricket, a type of flightless Katydid, most likely in the subfamily Tettigoniinae.  Some South African species are known as Koringkriek.

We have not been able to locate any images online that look like your individual.  The Little Kulala Lodge website has some individuals pictured.  We will attempt to contact Katydid expert Piotr Naskrecki to see if he can give us a more specific identification.

Piotr Naskrecki provides species identification:  Acanthoproctus cervinus
Hi Daniel,
This is Acanthoproctus cervinus (Tettigoniidae: Hetrodinae), a species common in Namibia and the Western part of South Africa.  It is one of the species that defend themselves by squirting blood from their spiracles at the attacker (but are of course harmless).
Cheers,
Piotr

Ed. NOte:  We found a matching image on FlickR that indicates the common name is Koringkriek.

Letter 15 – Armored Ground Cricket from Somalia

Subject: Bug in Somalia
Location: Hargeisa, Somaliland
January 29, 2015 11:13 am
Dear sir , do you have any idea what this one might be? I photographed it in Hargeisa (Somaliland, East AFRICA) on 29 January 2015. Eric
Signature: Eric

Armored Ground Cricket
Armored Ground Cricket

Hi Eric,
This is a Katydid, and it looks very much like the Armored Ground Cricket from Namibia we posted last year that Piotr Naskrecki identified as
Acanthoproctus cervinus.  We will contact Piotr to confirm the species.

Daniel
Wow that was quick!!!! Thank you so much!

Letter 16 – Armored Ground Cricket from Somalia

Subject: Puntland bug
Location: Puntland state of Somalia
February 15, 2015 11:33 am
Dear Bugman,
I saw this afternoon thus beetle in Puntland State of Somalia.
I asked a Somali what it was but he did not know.
He said these beetles appear suddenly and die around this time of year (February).
The beetle was about 7 centimeters long and was very slow and gave the impression it was about to die.
I am curious to know more about this beetle. I saw a smaller specimen in December when I visited Garowe).
Kind regards
and thanks before hand
Signature: Peter Markus

Armored Ground Cricket
Armored Ground Cricket

Dear Peter,
This is not a beetle.  It is a flightless Katydid commonly called an Armored Ground Cricket.

Dear Daniel,
Thank you very much!
I thought it might be but the photos I found looked different!
Again thank you, I will read up on it
Kind regards,
Peter

Letter 17 – Anglewing Katydid Eggs

Subject:  What is this
Geographic location of the bug:  Denver, Colorado
Date: 02/11/2018
Time: 12:52 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I noticed this formation on my door frame. I wold like to know what it is. If it’s a pest I need too kill it with fire. But if its a harmless critter i would like to keep and study it.
How you want your letter signed:  Anthony McDonnell

Anglewing Katydid Eggs

Dear Anthony,
These are the eggs of an Anglewing Katydid which you can verify by comparing your image to this BugGuide image.  Adult Anglewing Katydids resemble large green grasshoppers, but with very long antennae, and they have wings that help camouflage them among the deciduous leaves that they feed upon. 

Anglewing Katydids are solitary feeders and they do not harm trees because of the few leaves they eat.  Males call to the females and the “song” of a Katydid is a welcome summer night sound.

Letter 18 – 32 Spotted Katydid from Australia

Grasshopper bug
Location: Bendigo, Victoria, Australia
March 12, 2011 7:26 am
Hi Team,
Found this bug on my door last night, it looks like a grasshopper or locust, but I have never seen one like it here ever.Its about 2-3 inches long with white stripes up its belly. Can you help?
Cheers Denis
Signature: Denis Fitzgerald

32 Spotted Katydid

Hi Denis,
We quickly identified your 32 Spotted Katydid,
Ephippitytha trigintiduoguttata, by searching the Insects of Brisbane website.  It is also known as a Mottled Katydid, and the etymologically incorrect Speckled Grasshopper. 

Though Katydids and Grasshoppers are in the same insect order, Orthoptera, they are classified in different suborders.

Hi Daniel,
Thank you for your email and that you identified my grasshopper.
Seems its common up northern Australia. No wonder I have never seen this type so far south where I am, before.
Thanks again you guys do a GREAT job.
Cheers Denis

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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