Do Katydids Bite? Uncovering the Truth About These Insects

Katydids are fascinating insects that belong to the order Orthoptera, which includes grasshoppers and crickets. With approximately 6,400 species worldwide, these insects are easily recognized by their long and slender shapes, often resembling long-horned grasshoppers. However, they are more closely related to crickets than to grasshoppers1.

An interesting topic to explore is whether katydids bite humans or not. While katydids have chewing mouthparts primarily used for feeding on plant material, it’s important to know if they pose any threat to humans in terms of bites or injuries2.

What are Katydids

Characteristics of Tettigoniidae

Katydids, also known as Tettigoniidae, are a large group of insects known for their distinctive features. Some characteristics include:

  • Long, slender bodies
  • Long antennae, often exceeding their body length
  • Unique communication through songs, created by rubbing their wings together
  • Both herbivores and omnivores, feeding on leaves, flowers, and at times, other insects

Katydids vs Grasshoppers and Crickets

Katydids, grasshoppers, and crickets are often mistaken due to their similar appearances. However, important distinctions separate these insects:

Feature Katydids Grasshoppers Crickets
Antennae Long Short Long
Diet Herbivores/Omnivores Herbivores Omnivores
Song Yes No Yes
Body Shape Slender Sturdy Rounded

Examples

While all three insects are part of the Orthoptera order, katydids are more closely related to crickets than grasshoppers. For example:

  1. Both katydids and crickets are known for their songs, while grasshoppers don’t sing.
  2. Crickets and katydids have long antennae, but grasshoppers have short, thick antennae.

These comparisons show that despite their similarities, katydids, grasshoppers, and crickets each have their unique characteristics.

Katydids’ Behavior and Habitat

Nocturnal Lifestyle

Katydids are primarily nocturnal insects, meaning they are most active during the night. This nocturnal behavior helps them avoid predators like birds that are active during the day.

Examples of nocturnal creatures that could be predators to the katydids include bats and owls. By being active at night, these insects can effectively minimize direct contact with predators and increase their chances of survival.

Camouflage and Mimicry

Katydids have developed an impressive ability to blend into their surroundings through various forms of camouflage and mimicry. They are often leaf green in color, matching the foliage they inhabit, making it difficult for predators to spot them. For instance, Pterophylla camellifolia, or the true katydid, resembles a deciduous tree leaf, providing excellent camouflage.

A feature list of their camouflage and mimicry abilities includes:

  • Leaf-green coloring
  • Leaf-like body shape
  • Vein patterning on wings similar to leaf veins

Distribution of Katydids

The distribution of katydids covers a wide range, with about 6,400 species worldwide. They are commonly found in forests, parks, and yards. While they are more populous in Neotropical regions, they are also present in various climates and habitats across the globe.

Here is a comparison table of habitats for different types of katydids:

Habitat Type Common Katydid Species
Forests True Katydid
Parks Conehead Katydid
Yards Bush Katydid

In summary, katydids are nocturnal insects, which allows them to avoid predators. Their impressive camouflage and mimicry skills further aid in evading threats. Finally, katydids can be found in various habitats around the world, demonstrating their adaptability and resilience.

Diet and Feeding Habits

Omnivorous Diets

Katydids are known as omnivores, consuming a variety of food items. They primarily feed on:

  • Leaves
  • Grass
  • Seeds

For instance, Northern Bush Katydids typically munch on leaves from deciduous trees.

Preying on Other Insects

Apart from munching on plant-based foods, katydids also prey on other insects. Common targets include:

  • Aphids
  • Spiders

They consume these small insects as a source of protein.

Comparison of Katydids’ Diet

Food Source Characteristics Example
Leaves Easy to find, high in fiber Deciduous tree leaves
Grass Ubiquitous, low calories Lawn grass
Seeds High in fats, energy boost Sunflower seeds
Aphids High in protein Green peach aphids
Spiders Source of protein Small grassland spiders

Katydids and the Ecosystem

Role as Pests

Katydids are not generally considered severe pests, as they tend to feed on various plants without causing significant damage. However, in large numbers, they can become a nuisance. Some possible issues include:

  • Chewing on leaves and stems
  • Damaging flowers or fruits

Natural Predators

Katydids play an important role in the ecosystem by serving as a food source for numerous predators. Some of their main predators are:

  • Birds: Bird food often comes in the form of protein-rich insects like katydids.
  • Reptiles: Snakes and lizards commonly prey on katydids, contributing to a balanced ecosystem.
  • Great Golden Digger Wasps: These insects capture and paralyze katydids to feed their young.

Here’s a comparison table that highlights the interactions between katydids and some of their predators:

Predator Interaction with Katydids
Birds Eat katydids as a protein-rich food source
Snakes and Lizards Prey on katydids for nourishment
Great Golden Digger Wasps Capture and paralyze katydids to feed their offspring

Overall, katydids play a vital role in maintaining the balance of their ecosystem as both consumers and prey for numerous other organisms.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Mating and Egg-Laying

Katydids have a unique reproductive process. Males attract females with their songs and perform courtship rituals. After mating, females use their specialized ovipositor to lay eggs on various surfaces, usually plant stems or leaves1.

Some key features of katydid reproduction:

  • Males sing to attract females
  • Courtship rituals occur before mating
  • Females have a specialized ovipositor for egg-laying
  • Eggs are typically laid on plants

Nymph Development

Katydids undergo simple development, with nymphs resembling smaller versions of the adult insects2. During their life cycle, these nymphs go through a series of molts as they grow and mature into adults. The nymphs feed primarily on plant leaves, which provides the energy needed for growth3.

Comparison between nymphs and adults:

Attributes Nymphs Adults
Appearance Smaller, wingless Larger, fully-developed wings
Diet Plant leaves Plant leaves
Development stage Growing, molting Fully mature, able to reproduce

In summary, the katydid life cycle consists of unique mating rituals, egg-laying by females using their ovipositor, and nymph development. Both nymphs and adult katydids are primarily herbivorous, feeding on plant leaves.

Communication and Sound Production

Stridulation in Katydids

Katydids, also known as bush crickets, are members of the Orthoptera family. They communicate through sound production, mainly by stridulation. This involves the rapid movement of their wings to produce sound. Some key features of stridulation in katydids include:

  • Scraper and file system on their forewings
  • Mirror structures that amplify sound

A short comparison table for stridulation in katydids and grasshoppers:

Feature Katydids Grasshoppers
Main sound-producing limbs Forewings Hind legs
Sounds Songs or calls Short chirps

Purpose of Sound Production

Katydids produce sounds for a variety of reasons:

  1. Mating calls: Male katydids attract females through unique mating songs.
  2. Warning signals: Some katydids produce loud sounds to deter potential predators.
  3. Defense: Some species use their antennae to detect and locate incoming threats.

Katydids have high acoustic diversity, and their sound production systems exhibit a wide range of characteristics, representing the overall diversity in acoustic communication within the Orthoptera family.

In summary, katydids communicate through sophisticated sound production systems, such as stridulation, for various purposes like attracting mates and warning off predators. Their unique adaptations, like specialized wing structures, contribute to their complex acoustic communication methods.

Interesting Katydids Facts

Carnivorous Katydids

Some katydids are known to be carnivorous, which means they feed on other insects and small animals. These types of katydids have spines on their legs to help them catch and hold onto their prey. They may consume insects like cicadas and other smaller katydids.

An example of a carnivorous katydid species is the Tettigonia viridissima.

Largest Katydids Species

Katydids are generally known for their onomatopoeic chirping sounds. There are many different species of katydids, but here, we’ll take a look at the largest species of these insects.

  • Tettigonia viridissima: Also known as the great green bush-cricket, this species is found in Europe and Western Asia. Males can reach lengths between 28-36 mm, while females (equipped with a long ovipositor) can grow up to 32-42 mm.

Comparison of Katydids Species:

Species Size for Males Size for Females
Tettigonia viridissima 28-36 mm 32-42 mm

Some interesting characteristics of katydids include:

  • Long antennae that help them navigate their surroundings
  • Bright green coloration to camouflage themselves in their environment
  • Chirping nocturnal songs for mating purposes

Remember, these fascinating insects play an essential role in the ecosystem, serving as an important link in the food chain. So next time you hear their distinctive chirping sounds, be sure to appreciate their unique characteristics and marvel at the diversity of katydid species!

Katydids in Popular Culture and Science

Katydids in Literature

Katydids are often mentioned in poems and stories due to their melodic songs and distinct, green appearance. For example, the 19th-century poet John Clare wrote about the katydid’s beauty in his poem “The Grasshopper and the Cricket.”

Scientific Studies on Katydids

Katydids are an essential element in many ecosystems and have been studied extensively in various scientific disciplines. Some notable areas of research include:

  • Taxonomy: There are about 6,400 species of katydids worldwide, making them an abundant and diverse group of insects.
  • Evolution and Adaptation: Various studies examine the ways katydids have adapted to different environments and predators, such as the neotropical katydid with its impressive camouflage abilities.
  • Color morphs: The rare pink katydid is a result of a genetic mutation called erythrism, making them a fascinating subject for geneticists and entomologists alike.
Features of Katydids Comparison
Taxonomy 6,400 species
Evolution Various adaptions
Color Morphs Erythrism

In conclusion, katydids play a significant role in both popular culture and scientific research. Their unique characteristics and adaptations make them an intriguing subject for literature and various areas of scientific study.

Footnotes

  1. https://hort.extension.wisc.edu/articles/katydids/ 2

  2. https://education.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/katydids 2

  3. Katydids – Wisconsin Horticulture

Reader Emails

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

Letter 1 – Common Conehead Katydid

 

Subject:  Is this a Katydid?  And did it bite me?
Geographic location of the bug:  Winterset, Iowa
Date: 08/08/2018
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

Common Conehead

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.

Letter 2 – Broad Winged Katydid Nymph

 

Broad Winged Katydid Nymph
Location:  Mt Washington, Los Angeles, CA
May 20, 2012
At the end of last month, we photographed this Broad Winged Katydid Nymph in our garden and we did not have an opportunity to post the photo.  Though they feed on leaves, we do not consider Katydids to be a pest species since they feed individually and they do not do any lasting damage to the plants they feed upon.

Broad Winged Katydid Nymph

Letter 3 – Armoured Bush Cricket from Kenya: Eugasteroides loricatus

 

Subject: Strange bug in Kenya
Location: Machakos, Kenya
May 4, 2013 6:32 pm
During a trip near Machakos, Kenya this bug joined me in my sleeping bag. Even the locals didn’t know what it was. The Kenyan coin in the picture is larger than a quarter but not quite as large as a half dollar coin. If you have any clue what this bug is I would love to know!
Signature: Nathan

Possibly Armored Bush Cricket
Possibly Armoured Bush Cricket

After doing some further research myself I think this is some kind of armored ground cricket but I have no idea what type.

Hi Nathan,
We believe this might be an Armoured Bush Cricket in the subfamily Hetrodinae.  There is a very similar looking insect pictured on a stamp from Kenya that is reproduced on the Insect Stamps of Kenya page.  Encyclopedia of Life has another member of the family that does not look like your individual.  The Koringkriek pictured on ISpot also looks quite similar.  We also have a photo of a Koringkriek in our archive.  We will attempt to contact Piotr Naskrecki, a Katydid expert, to see if he can provide a species name.  

Koringkriek perhaps
Koringkriek perhaps

Piotr Naskrecki provides an identification
Hi Daniel,
This is Eugasteroides loricatus (Hetrodinae), a species common in East Africa.
Cheers,
Piotr

Letter 4 – Broad-Tipped Conehead

 

Tan grasshopper/locust with 2-tones eyes, and a fishlike face.
Sat, Dec 13, 2008 at 6:54 PM
I discovered this grasshopper-like insect clinging to one of the leaves of a potted snake plant next to my front door yesterday afternoon. It moved lithargicly and only after it got annoyed with me taking it’s photograph. I’ve never seen a grasshopper with this fish-like face and white and green eyes. Can you help me identify what this is?
Ray Smith
Jacksonville, FL USA

Broad-Tipped Conehead
Broad-Tipped Conehead

Hi Ray,
This isn’t a grasshopper. It is a Katydid in the group known as Coneheads. We believe it is a Broad-Tipped Conehead, Neoconocephalus triops. You can compare images and get additional information on BugGuide. We will contact a specialist, Piotr Naskrecki, to substantiate or refute our identification.

Broad-Tipped Conehead
Broad-Tipped Conehead

Hi Daniel,
Yes, this indeed looks like a male Neoconocephalus triops.
Cheers,
Piotr

Letter 5 – Bush Katydid Nymph

 

Subject: Possible Katydid Juvenile
Location: Fullerton, California
October 25, 2012 5:30 pm
I found this little specimen sitting on top of my avocado sapling this morning. It’s only about 1/4 long from head to rear, not including the antennae. The body shape is grasshopper-like but more lanky, and it moved very slowly. Luckily I had my camera all set up for macro and got a nice close up. Creepy! Any idea what I’ve got here? Thanks.
Signature: Colin F

Bush Katydid Nymph

Hi Colin,
You are correct.  This is a very young nymph of a Bush Katydid, and your photo is beautiful.

Letter 6 – Blue Legged Sylvan Katydid from South Africa

 

Subject: Bug ID
Location: South Africa
July 4, 2015 1:07 pm
Hi there are you able to identify this bug?
Signature: Lincoln

Sylvan Katydid
Blue Legged Sylvan Katydid

Dear Lincoln,
Within moments of attempting your identification, we found an image on Piotr Naskrecki’s blog The Smaller Majority that was identified as a Blue Legged Sylvan Katydid,
Zabalius ophthalmicus.  An image on the IUCN Red List site shows the blue hind legs.  An image on the Orthoptera Species File site is a duplication of the pose in your image.

Letter 7 – Broad Tipped Conehead

 

Grasshopper?
March 4, 2010
Found this guy in a pine needle bale from SC while spreading it in NC. Dont know if her was just hitching a ride or what. Brown color…long wings, slender back legs
Luke
NC

Broad Tipped Conehead

Hi Luke,
It is easy to confuse a Katydid with a Grasshopper, but Grasshoppers have shorter, thicker antennae, and Katydids, like your specimen, have longer, more hairlike antennae.  Based on our research on BugGuide, this appears to be a Broad Tipped Conehead or Three Eyed Conehead Katydid.  We wish you had provided a view of the front of the head as that would have made for a surer identification.  Why do you spread pine needles in North Carolina?

Daniel-
That is awesome! I wish I would have had a better picture of the head. I didn’t know the difference between Grasshopper and Katydids but thanks for filling me in! I love to learn as much as I can about what is around me! Being a forestry student at the University of Tennessee I see my fare share of insects and arachnids! I was spreading the pine needles in the back of my parents house in NC. It is funny considering all the pine we have there but I’ve found that the longer needles of some SC long leaf and loblolly pines are better than the ones you can buy at say Lowes or ACE Hardware. I love your site, I wish I would have known more on how to find the insect myself but the link was perfect! Thank you so much for your help and QUICK response! I have donated a few dollars to help keep the site running!
Best of luck,
-Luke-

Hi again Luke,
Thanks for the kind words, the gardening tip, and the generous donation.

Letter 8 – Broad-Tipped Conehead

 

Subject: Whata this?
Location: New orleans louisiana
March 9, 2016 7:21 pm
On my house in new orleans. Never seen this before. Cant find him in the native species directory. Would love an answer. Thanks
Signature: Steve

Broad-Tipped Conehead
Broad-Tipped Conehead

Dear Steve,
This is a Conehead Katydid in the Tribe Copiphorini, and we believe it is a good match to the Broad-Tipped Conehead,
Neoconocephalus triops, that is pictured on BugGuide.  According to BugGuide:  “Species name ‘triops’ is Greek, meaning ‘three eyes’. Also a character from Greek mythology, an offspring of the sea-god Poseidon and Kanake. (Based on Internet searches.) This refers to the black spot on the cone, having the appearance of a third eye.”  We will once again be traveling with Journalism students, this time to NYC, so we are postdating your submission to go live to our site over the weekend while we are away.

Letter 9 – Broad Winged Katydid

 

katydid?
Hello,
Thanks for so much info on your site! I tried to match it with one of your previous letters and it looks like it might be a katydid.
Lynda Felder
San Diego, CA

Hi Linda,
This is indeed a Broad Winged Katydid, Microcentrum rhombifolium. We find them in our Los Angeles garden, but the Fork-Tailed Bush Katydid is far more common for us.

Letter 10 – Broad-Winged Katydid

 

Hello Again,
I was taking a walk the other day and got a picture of this grasshopper on a brick fence with my camera phone. He was farley large about two or three inches and his wings looked like blades of grass, he was very neat. What kind is it??? I live in montebello, california. Thanks for the website!!!
Sincerely,
Darcy Jimenez

Hi Darcy,
You have a Katydid, but it is difficult to determine the species from your photograph. They are usually seen and not heard because they are excellently camouflaged in foilage.

Letter 11 – Broad Winged Katydid

 

Freaked out by a gigantic Green Grasshopper!
These were taken BEFORE we relocated the yucky thing!
As you can see about 10 minutes later the thing was back in our closed garage!
What is this and is it laying eggs?
Jaymie M In Irvine, CA

Hi Jaymie,
You have sent in photos of a Broad-Winged Katydid, Microcentrum rhombifolium, which will not lay eggs in your garage. They lay eggs on twigs. They are usually not noticed on plants since they are such good leaf mimics.

Letter 12 – Bug quarrel

 

Bugman,
OK, my girlfriend and I are at odds over the common southern night "noisy" bug that (I’ve
always understood) to be the Katydid or Secada (sp?)…..You know, the guy that makes that
loud odd buzzing sound at dusk……… So, I think it’s a Katydid or Secada and she says it’s a "July Fly"…… I bet it’s the same thing….. Please help us out……
Phil (Huntsville, AL.)

Dear Phil,
Katydids have a more musical song and Cicadas make the buzzing noise. July Fly could be a local name, but not one that I have heard. Cicadas are often compared in appearance to large flies.

Letter 13 – Bush Cricket from Cadiz: Uromenus species

 

Subject: Grasshopper or what?
Location: Guadiaro, Cadiz
July 11, 2017 11:44 am
This little creature is sitting in the sun on the railings. Is unusual in size and colouring. Any ideas as to species?
Signature: Ken

Female Bush Cricket

Dear Ken,
This is a flightless female Katydid in the subfamily Tettigoniinae, commonly called a Bush Cricket in Europe, but we are having a problem narrowing down the genus and species.  You can tell she is a female by her ovipositor on the tip of her abdomen, but the position of that ovipositor oriented under her body is very unusual.  Most female Bush Crickets have the ovipositor extending past the end of the body.  We cannot locate any similar images online at this time with this unusual backward ovipositor.  We will attempt to contact Katydid expert Piotr Naskrecki to see if he can provide an identification.  Perhaps as in this FlickR image, the Katydid in your image has curved her body because she is in the act of beginning to lay eggs, though we don’t believe that is the case because this image on Minden Pictures of a Saddle-Back Bush Cricket from the genus
Ephippiger laying eggs does not have such a backward facing ovipositor.

Female Bush Cricket

Piotr Naskrecki provides an identification.
Hi Daniel,
This is a female of Uromenus (Tettigoniidae: Ephippigerinae). The forward facing ovipositor means that she is simply probing the substrate to find a good place to lay eggs. At all other times the ovipositor is held in a typical, back-facing position.
Cheers,
Piotr

Ed. Note:  Grasshoppers of EuropeBased on Piotr Naskrecki’s identification, we were able to locate this image from Cadiz on Invertebrados Insectarium Virtual.  When it comes to Katydids, there is often much color variation within a species.  Members of this genus are also represented on .

Dear Daniel
Many thanks for your comments and I am looking up the various links to understand a little more.
Thanks again
Ken

Letter 14 – Bush Cricket from Portugal

 

Subject:  Green cicada-grasshoper like
Geographic location of the bug:  North of Portugal
Date: 11/27/2019
Time: 06:52 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Found this little guy during the summer and the only name I can find for it is the local name (cigarrela) but I would apreciate if you could discover more about it
How you want your letter signed:  Miguel Gonçalves

Bush Cricket

Dear Miguel,
This is a Shield-Backed Katydid in the subfamily Tettigoninae, and it is commonly called a Bush Cricket.  It might be
Steropleurus pseudolus which is pictured on FlickR.  It might also be in the genus Ephippiger.

Letter 15 – Bush Cricket from Lesbos

 

Subject: Cricket
Location: Lesbos
June 28, 2017 1:15 pm
Daniel,
You were kind enough to identify some insects on Lesbos for me some time ago. I have now been back to Lesbos and have s few more for you. I hope to use these in a talk I have been asked to do for an RSPB group and would appreciate your help as I have been unable to identify them on line,
Regards
Signature: William Smiton

Bush Cricket

Dear William,
This is a Katydid in the family Tettigoniidae, and the common name Bush Cricket is frequently used in Europe.  The individual in your image is a male, and the wings are either not fully developed or they do not permit a mature individual to fly.  We are having a bit of difficulty identifying the species.  This individual on Getty Images looks similar, but it is only identified to the family, and it is a female as evidenced by her ovipositor.  There is an endemic species of Bush Cricket on Lesbos,
Poecilimon mytelensis, and it is pictured on Pbase, but it looks like a different species to us, but again, it is a female.  The male pictured on Minden Pictures does not have wings, so we suspect your individual is a different species, but we are having problems finding images of Bush Crickets on Lesbos other than Poecilimon mytelensis that are identified to the species level.  This FlickR image looks close, but again, no species name.  So, this is a Bush Cricket in the family Tettigoniidae, but we do not believe it is the endemic Poecilimon mytelensis.

 

Letter 16 – Bush Katydid

 

Subject: Grasshopper? In Los Angeles?
Location: West Los Angeles
January 1, 2013 5:38 pm
Hi Bugman,
Growing up in Wisconsin, grasshoppers were a common sight, but I haven’t seen them here in LA. I wonder if it’s a consequence of global warming and the humidity we experienced last summer.
Should we be concerned for our gardens?
Thx, Jeff
Signature: Jeff Bremer

Bush Katydid

Dear Jeff,
We do have native Grasshoppers in the Los Angeles area, and some like the Gray Bird Grasshopper are quite large, however the insect in your photos is a Bush Katydid in the genus
Scudderia.  Katydids and Grasshoppers are in the same insect order, and they look very similar.  The easiest way to distinguish them from one another is the antennae.  Katydids are longhorned Orthopterans will long antennae and Grasshoppers have much shorter antennae.  We believe this is a Fork Tailed Bush Katydid, Scudderia furcata.  Most Bush Katydids are green, but there is a photo of a brown individual on BugGuide.  See BugGuide for additional information on the Bush Katydids.  Like Grasshoppers, Katydids feed on plants, but unlike Grasshoppers, Katydids do not form great masses of individuals that eat everything in their path like the infamous plagues of locusts.  We allow Katydids to live in our Mount Washington, Los Angeles garden.  They love feeding on the petals of roses, but they don’t really damage the plants much.  Your individual is a female as evidenced by the sickle shaped ovipositor at the tip of the abdomen.

Female Bush Katydid

 

Letter 17 – Bush Katydid eats Minnow

 

Subject:  Oblong Winked Katydid eating dried up minnow?
Geographic location of the bug:  Evergreen Park Illinois
Date: 09/14/2017
Time: 02:28 PM EDT
I had a minnow die on me so I put it on the yew just to see if any yellow jackets would come by and feed on it. Fast forward about a week and I saw what I believe is an Oblong-Winged Katydid chewing on the dried up minnow. Guess she needed some protein in her diet!
How you want your letter signed:  Thanks!

Katydid eats Minnow

Though most Katydids are thought of as plant eaters, there are many omnivorous species.  Your image indicates that they may be opportunistic, feeding on animal protein when it is available.  We actually believe your Katydid is a Bush Katydid in the genus Scudderia, and the ovipositor indicates it is a female.

Letter 18 – Bush Katydid Molting

 

Subject: Insect
Location: San Diego, CA
June 4, 2016 2:53 pm
I found this interesting looking insect the other day… Maybe a type of katydid?
Signature: Elijah Otto

Katydid Molting
Bush Katydid Molting

Dear Elijah,
This is most certainly an immature Katydid, and you have captured it in the process of molting.  We believe this may be a Mexican Bush Katydid nymph based on this BugGuide image, but we would not entirely rule out that it is a Fork Tailed Bush Katydid nymph based on this BugGuide image.  The absence of an ovipositor indicates this is a male Bush Katydid nymph.

Letter 19 – Bush Katydid Nymph

 

Subject: Orchid-eating Long-horned Beetle?
Location: Sandy Springs, Georgia, USA
July 9, 2014 11:30 am
I was startled last week to find a little green guy chomping on my orchid blossoms, and leaving his mess as he went. The orchid had 23 individual blossoms that had been beautiful for more than 10 weeks, then suddenly blossoms started dropping and holes started appearing.
When I found the culprit (and I only found one), I took lots of pictures, and ultimately cut the stem of blossoms and discarded the bug and the blossoms because I have several other orchids in the house.
He/she was pretty and rather sporty bright green body, lovely legs, black and white striped antennae, and a white muzzle with 4 short feelers. Despite the good look I got, I can’t seem to find this guy in any of my books.
Let me know if you want more pictures.
Thanks.
PS Love the website!
Signature: Helen

Bush Katydid Nymph
Bush Katydid Nymph

Hi Helen,
This is an immature Bush Katydid in the genus
Scudderia, and you can compare your individual to this image on BugGuide.  Bush Katydids normally feed on the leaves of plants, but they do not shy away from tender plant blossoms.  

Bush Katydid Nymph
Bush Katydid Nymph

Letter 20 – Bush Katydid Nymph

 

Subject:  Bug on a dwarf navel orange tree
Geographic location of the bug:  Central California
Date: 05/01/2018
Time: 10:04 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Is this beautiful critter eating my tree or eating what’s eating my tree
How you want your letter signed:  John

Bush Katydid Nymph

Dear John,
This is a Bush Katydid nymph in the genus
Scudderia, and they are generalist feeders that will eat the leaves of many different plants.  You can always relocate it if your tree is very small.  If it is a larger tree, the loss of some leaves will not adversely compromise the health of the tree. 

Letter 21 – Bush Katydid Nymph

 

Subject:  On an Avacado tree
Geographic location of the bug:  Davis, California
Date: 05/09/2019
Time: 03:27 PM EDn
Your letter to the bugman:  I have found a few of these on the tree, wondering if they are a pest or beneficial.
How you want your letter signed:  Pat

Bush Katydid Nymph

Dear Pat,
We would need you to more clearly define “pest or beneficial” but in our opinion, this is a beneficial Katydid nymph.  Katydids will eat foliage and flowers, but they will not defoliate trees, nor will it eat your avocados.  Katydids are also among the “music makers” in the insect world, and we thoroughly enjoy their sounds in the evening.  We believe your individual is an immature Bush Katydid in the genus
Scudderia.

Thank you for your response. I suppose those terms do include some subjectivity, I guess I was just wondering if I should be concerned seeing a handful of them on a young tree?
Thanks again,
Pat

Letter 22 – Bush Katydid Nymphs

 

Two buddies on my Coyote Mint
Location: Mission District, San Francisco
July 13, 2011 3:56 pm
Dear Bugman – Just noticed these two brothers (Cousins?) sitting on my Coyote Mint and wondered whether I should be worried, indifferent, or happy.
Signature: SF Gardener

Bush Katydid Nymphs

Dear SF Gardener,
These are immature Bush Katydids.  Immature Katydids, like the early stages of many insects, are called nymphs.  Though they are plant eaters, we allow Katydids to live in our garden and feed off the leaves of plants.  They do some cosmetic damage but they never defoliate the plants.

Hi Daniel –
Thanks for the info. I’d traced them to the Opthera order, but didn’t recognize them among crickets and grasshoppers. I will let them be, as you say.
This is my garden’s second year and I’m getting the hang of it and seeing some new things: aphids severely damaging my lupines, and powdery mildew on my snowberries. Trying to recognize the birds and butterflies and bugs as part of all this.
Best,
John

Letter 23 – Bushcricket from France

 

Subject: French cricket?
Location: near Cholet, France (~ 47°N 1°W)
November 11, 2013 6:52 pm
We saw this fellow slowly ambling across a dirt trail near a dairy farm near Cholet, France. As we stood and gakwed, someone said ”get a picture so we can send it to What’s That Bug!” We didn’t manage to get it to pose with a coin before it disappeared in the tall grass, but I think it was about 6cm long.
The bit under the saddle (pardon my technical terminology…) looks particularly interesting, and we were wondering what the tail was used for. Vicious stinger? Ovipositor? Rudder? (Deepest apologies if you are intimidated by my incredible entomological knowledge.)
Many thanks for whatever light you can shed on this startling beast.
Signature: M. Fromage

Bush Cricket
Bushcricket

Dear M. Fromage,
This is a female Shieldback Katydid in the genus
Ephippiger, and it is commonly called a Bushcricket.  What appears to be a stinger is actually an ovipositor.

Letter 24 – Bushcricket from France

 

What’s this bug/Cricket/Cicada?
Location: Collias, Gard, France
August 11, 2011 5:36 am
Please could you help identify the attached bug?
We photographed it last week in the Gard, in the South of France on a hot day (30C-ish). It was sitting amongst some long grass at the base of an olive tree and was making NO sound at all.
Signature: Steph

Bushcricket

Hi Steph,
This is a male Shieldback Katydid in the genus
Ephippiger, and they are commonly called Bushcrickets, but we are not certain if that is a translation from the French.

Letter 25 – Central Texas Leaf Katydid

 

Huge Creepy Crawlers
June 7, 2010
These very loud chirping “crickets” like to jump on me! I have seen them green with black legs and red with black legs.
Nervous in Mico
Medina Lake, Texas

Central Texas Leaf Katydid

Dear Nervous,
It must be a bumper crop year for the Central Texas Leaf Katydid which is represented in your photograph.  If they are plentiful, they may defoliate oak trees.  Your specimen is a female as evidenced by the saber-like ovipositor.

Letter 26 – Central Texas Leaf Katydid

 

Very strange yellow bug
Location:  San Antonio, Texas
August 13, 2010 11:12 pm
I saw this bug on the garage door of a house while visiting Texas during the summer. Personally I thought it looked like a strange mix of an albino cockroach and a spider, and the largest bug I have ever seen outside of a zoo. It must have been just a little smaller than my hand. I’ve asked many other people but they can’t seem to figure it out, would love to know.
Thanks, Katy

Central Texas Leaf Katydid

Really Katy did you never see your namesake bug, a Katydid?
We believe this to be a Central Texas Leaf Katydid or Truncated True Katydid,
Paracyrtophyllus robustus.  According to BugGuide, they:  “Feed on Oaks. During outbreaks, they are known for defoliating Post Oak (Quercus stellata) and plateau live oak (Quercus fusiformis). The ovipositor jutting from under the wing tips indicates that this is a female.  The typical coloration of this species if green (see BugGuide), and they are sometimes red (see BugGuide), but yellow is a new color variation for us.  For that reason, we are going to contact Katydid expert Piotr Naskrecki for verification of the identification and to get his opinion on the frequency of this color variation.

Piotr Naskrecki confirms identification
Hi Daniel,
The yellow katydid on your website does indeed look like Paracyrtophyllus robustus. Yellow and pink morphs are not uncommon.
Cheers,
Piotr

Letter 27 – Central Texas Leaf Katydid nymph

 

What is it? Katydid? Bush cricket?
June 2, 2010
Righty then, I have an employee that brought this mystery bug to work for identification. After scouring the web and looking through books, obviously I’ve turned to the experts. According to the employee, there are lots of these and they are eating her oak trees. She lives in a county about 20 miles outside Bexar County, TX. Photography by Kathy Moffett-Jones.
Steve
San Antonio, Texas, Surrounding area

Central Texas Leaf Katydid

Hi Steve,
This is the third photo of a Truncated True Katydid or Central Texas Leaf Katydid, Paracyrtophyllus robustus, we have received from Texas in the past few days.  Your specimen is immature and when it is mature, the wings will be full sized.  We understand when they are quite plentiful, they can defoliate oak trees, but this does not seriously compromise healthy trees which will just grow more leaves.

Letter 28 – Common Conehead

 

Grasshopper
Location: North America, Minnesota
August 9, 2011 12:13 am
I am wondering what this lil critter is! Found him on my car about half way to my destination, he was on my windshield an I am glad he didn’t fly off so i could snap a pic!
Signature: Rye-Guy

Common Conehead

Dear Rye-Guy,
Your Katydid is known as a Common Conehead in the genus
Neocolocephalus, and BugGuide has this to say about its feeding habits:  “Adults feed mostly on seeds of grasses, sometimes sedges. Nymphs feed on grass flowers, developing seeds.”  BugGuide also notes that it may bite if handled, but it is worth mentioning that this is not a venomous species and it is most likely that the bite will not even draw blood.

Letter 29 – Common Conehead Katydid

 

Large, green, slow-moving, wide wingspan
November 30, 2009
I found this guy on my lampshade in November. We live amongst Oaks and Cedars predominantly, have acid soil, nights down to 40’s currently. I thought Katydid, but maybe a tree cricket of some kind? Thank you!
Rhoni Lawrence
2400 ft. Sierra Nevada foothills in N. California

Common Conehead
Common Conehead

Dear Rhoni,
This sure appears to be a Common Conehead Katydid in the genus Neoconocephalus, but we cannot be certain of the species.  None of the species that are identified on bugGuide are found in California, but some unidentified specimens are.

Common Conehead
Common Conehead

Perhaps one of our readers who is more skilled at Katydid identification will be able to provide a species name.

Common Conehead
Common Conehead

Letter 30 – Common Conehead Katydid

 

Subject: identify insect
Location: New Orleans
March 17, 2015 8:31 pm
Hey, I found this grasshopper like bug in my house tonight. I find it very beautiful, but I have no idea what it is and can’t seem to find anything that identifies it.
Signature: lukas

Common Conehead
Common Conehead

Dear Lukas,
What a nice green find on St. Patrick’s Day.  This looks like a Common Conehead Katydid in the genus
Neoconocephalus to us, though we cannot say for certain which species, and you can compare your image to those on BugGuide.

Hey! Thats it! Thanks! Yes a great find on st. patricks day, felt honored to have it in my home. I looked up other pictures of katydids, but all the images that came up didn’t match.

Letter 31 – Common Long Legged Bush Cricket from Croatia

 

Subject: Id bug- Croatia
Location: Croatia
July 16, 2016 1:17 am
And can you tell us what this is and any information about it?
Signature: Don

Common Long Legged Bush Cricket
Common Long Legged Bush Cricket

Dear Don,
We are confident that we have correctly identified your Katydid as a Common Long Legged Bush Cricket,
Acrometopa servillea macropoda, thanks to excellent images by Roy Kleukers on Grasshoppers of Europe.

Letter 32 – Black-Sided Meadow Katydid

 

Subject: Straight-lanced Meadow Katydid?
Location: St. Augusta, MN
September 13, 2013 8:30 am
Hello Bug Nuts,
I think these may be Straight-lanced Katydids. I saw them for the first time last year. Even after a half-century of chasing insects, it amazes me how often I still find something new, right here on my home turf here in Central MN.
The male was ’singing’, but even though I was literally inches away, I couldn’t hear him. The ’ladies’ did, however, and I guess that’s the point. There were several females nearby.
Thanks many times over for the incredible work you do.
Signature: Don J. Dinndorf

Male Straight-Lanced Meadow Katydid
Male Black-Sided Meadow Katydid Singing

Dear Don,
We wanted to post your gorgeous photos of both the male and the female of the species, and we will search for some good links to reputable web sites.

Female Straight-Lanced Meadow Katydid
Female Black-Sided Meadow Katydid

Hi again Don,
After doing some research this morning, we are inclined to disagree about this being a Straight-Lanced Meadow Katydid which looks different than your individuals based on photos posted to BugGuide.  We believe your individual is actually a Black-Sided Meadow Katydid,
Conocephalus nigropleurum, and you can compare your photos to those posted on BugGuide.

Excellent!  Another new species for my list of critters seen on our property.
Thanks again for your wonderful work.
Don D

Letter 33 – Caribbean Orthopteran is Forest Katydid, Nesonotus tricornis,

 

Can you identify this tropical cricket?
Sun, Nov 23, 2008 at 12:41 PM
The cricket shown in the photo about is about 7 cm long. The distinctive features of this insect include the turqoise eyes and the long antennae. The specimen shown had just been disabled after being struck by a shoe. My young children cowered in fear after it alighted on a balcony ledge.
Solar
Saint Lucia, West Indies

Blue Eyed Katydid from West Indies
Blue Eyed Katydid from West Indies

Hi Solar,
We are more inclined to think this is a Katydid in the family Tettigoniidae as opposed to a Cricket in the family Gryllidae. To be safe, we would only classify down to the suborder Ensifera, the Long-horned Orthoptera until we get some input. We would think that this is a well documented species due to its unusual eye coloration which almost seems to have been enhanced through PhotoShop, but we didn’t have much luck with our web search.

Update:  April 21, 2021
Thanks to a new submission, we now know that this is a Forest Katydid,
Nesonotus tricornis, which is pictured on Nature Picture Library (where Piotr Naskrecki provided the image).

Letter 34 – Central Texas Leaf Katydid nymph

 

Black-Red-Yellow Cricket?
May 28, 2010
Black-Red-Yellow Cricket with long legs
Mark
San Antonio, Texas

Central Texas Leaf Katydid Nymph

Hi Mark,
This is an immature Katydid, and we are going to seek professional assistance from Piotr Naskrecki in the identification.

Central Texas Leaf Katydid Nymph

Hi Daniel,
This looks like a nymph of the Central Texas Leaf Katydid (Paracyrtophyllus
robustus.)
Piotr

Thanks Piotr.  There are matching images on BugGuide which indicates:  “True katydids have leaf-like wings that form cups enclosing the abdomen. (The cupped wings probably serve to amplify their sounds.) Antennae longer and stiffer than in other katydids.

Letter 35 – Australian Pollen Feeding Katydid from Australia

 

Subject: Canberra, Australia Insect
Location: Canberra Australia
February 1, 2017 4:05 am
Hi,
I’m hoping you can help identify what kind of Insect I found on my Lemon Tree.
The closest family I can discern are the Stick insects, but the fused wing case throws me off.
There is a few pictures in my Flickr album, but I think this is the best.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/kai74/32539737646/in/album-72157679697878035/
Hope you can help,
Signature: Kai Squires

Australian Pollen Feeding Katydid

Dear Kai,
We doubt that this is a Stick Insect, and we believe it is a Longhorned Orthopteran in the suborder Ensifera, possibly one of the Tree Crickets which you can find pictured on the Discover Life site.  The ovipositor indicates your individual is a female.  Two Spotted Tree Crickets have a similar roll wing appearance.  We may try to contact Piotr Naskrecki who specializes in Katydids to see if he knows the identity of your very unusual Orthopteran.  We suspect we may get comments from our readership on this identification today.

Fantastic thank you.
I did feel the ovipositor was very cricket,grasshopper like, but nothing else was.
Thanks, k.

Update:  Australian Pollen Feeding Katydid
Cesar Crash and Matthew both wrote comments that this is Zaprochilus australis, commonly called the Pollen Katydid.  The Atlas of Living Australia indicates it is a member of the Katydid family Tettigoniidae, does not provide a common name but indicates:  “At rest by day, these katydids camouflage themselves as twigs. They lie lengthways along a small branch, with antennae pointing directly forwards and hind legs pointing backwards. They hold their wings at a distinctive angle from the body, with the fore wings ‘rolled’ so that they are almost cylindrical. If disturbed, a purple patch is revealed at the base of the hind wings. At night, they fly to flowers to feed on nectar and pollen, using their specialised lengthened mouthparts to reach deep into flowers and using specialised molar plates to crush pollen grains. They have a preference for grass-trees but visit many other flowers. Adults are active from late winter and early summer. Males have a simple stridulatory file and produce a simple, barely audible call to attract mates. Females lay their eggs in crevices in bark.”  Csiro provides the common names Twig-Mimicking Katydid and Australian Pollen Feeding Katydid.  According to BunyipCo:  “As an aside that might be of interest,
Zaprochilus australis (Brullé) is one of the earliest described species of Australian Orthoptera. The first specimen was collected on an expedition authorised by Napoleon Bonaparte that comprised two vessels, one, Le Géographe the other Le Naturaliste. The former ship was captained by Capt. Nicholas Baudin, the purported collector of the type of the species on Kangaroo Island, South Australia in 1802 or, perhaps, in 1803 when another ship, the Casuarina returned there. This species is the most widespread of the genus and occurs across the southern end of the continent and seems quite abundant at times.”

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.

25 thoughts on “Do Katydids Bite? Uncovering the Truth About These Insects”

  1. Edible,

    When I ordered some wild-caught orthoptera from the Everglades area of South Florida, some of these katydids came with the assortment of other species. Quite tasty, too.
    Though I should add that I’ve recently read about a fatal case of grasshopper consumption. The culprit was an African specimen in the genus Phymateus. That one featured aposematic coloration, quite unlike the katydid pictured here.

    Best,
    Dave
    http://www.slshrimp.com

    Reply
  2. These are among the TASTIER bugs.
    Though not mentioned in the identification text here, this is probably in the genus Conocephalus. These guys are visual matches of Nsenene, the Ugandan katydids greatly enjoyed during their seasonal availability — in Uganda and surrounding countries.

    I managed to buy some in a nearby city with a substantial Ugandan population. They’re a bit expensive but totally delicious. In the toaster oven or on the frying pan, the fats in their bodies makes them bubble. Most people say they taste like bacon.

    Dave

    Reply
  3. In case Luke doesn’t answer you:

    Pine needles are commonly used as mulch in North Carolina, partly because pines are common in the forests, so it looks very natural. It also helps acidify the soil, so if you live in a state with basic soil, it’s often used as a soil amender to enable you to grow acid-loving plants like azaleas and rhododendrons.

    My question is: where did he get that cool perch for the photo? Neat!

    Reply
  4. Neoconcephalus triops, the broad-tipped cone head, found in southern California. November is very late in the year for them, but who knows how long it was hiding out in the house.

    Reply
  5. My husband had what appears to be a Cone Headed Katydid land on his leg. He has since broke out in patches of what stared ut pink and has gotten quite red and itchy. Could this have been caused by this insect.

    Reply
  6. I just found one of these in my garden! I live in th Metro Vancouver, BC area. Your picture is so much better than mine.

    Reply
  7. Their bite will be of no harm. They bite because when a big monster human handles them they scare and put up a defense as they should. Survival instinct they call this. The sad thing about ignorance is that a lot of suffering comes out of it. I’ve seen and have known insects and sometimes garter snakes that were stepped on and killed because of peoples fear of them. Ignorance! It’s a shame all the killing we do. If we cannot replace it we have no right to destroy it. What a beautiful specimen the conehead is!

    Reply
  8. We found a giant blue eyed (no photo shop!!) grasshopper in our guest house in Saint Lucia, April 19 2021. I hVe submitted photos of it to this website but don’t know how to add the picture here….can I add a picture in a “comment”?

    Reply

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