What Do Katydids Eat: A Friendly Guide to Their Diet

Katydids are fascinating insects that are related to grasshoppers and crickets, with over 6,400 species documented worldwide. Known for their long and slender shape, these intriguing creatures are often called long-horned grasshoppers, even though they’re more closely related to crickets. As you dive into the world of katydids and their diet, you’ll discover that they … Read more

What Does a Katydid Look Like? A Visual Guide for Curious Minds

Katydids are fascinating insects that belong to the order Orthoptera, which also includes grasshoppers and crickets. You might have seen or heard them in the summertime, but do you know what they look like? These insects are usually green in color, allowing them to blend in with their surroundings. A common feature of many katydids … Read more

When Do Katydids Come Out: A Friendly Guide to Their Appearance

Katydids, the fascinating insects known for their large, leaf-like appearance and enchanting songs, tend to emerge during the warmer months. They’re most commonly observed in late spring and throughout the summer. As temperatures rise, you may start to notice these intriguing creatures and the distinctive sounds they make.

When venturing outside during their active season, keep your eyes open for katydids camouflaged among foliage or listen for their captivating songs. The male katydids produce these alluring melodies as a way to attract females for mating, and they’re most active at night.

As the weather warms up, make sure to explore your surroundings and watch for katydids. Their presence not only adds an extra element of intrigue to your outdoor adventures but also serves as an indicator of a healthy ecosystem. Enjoy your encounters with these remarkable insects!

Understanding Katydids

Katydids, also known as long-horned grasshoppers, belong to the family Tettigoniidae within the order Orthoptera. These fascinating insects display a variety of behaviors and characteristics that set them apart from other insects. In this short section, we’ll briefly explore some key features of katydids and when they usually come out.

To begin, let’s quickly examine some unique traits of katydids:

  • They have long, threadlike antennae, differing from grasshoppers’ short antennae.
  • Their body color tends to be green, which helps camouflage them among leaves.
  • Their average length ranges from one and a half to two inches.

Katydids’ lifecycle lasts about a year, and females usually lay their eggs toward summer’s end. The males possess sound-producing organs on their front wings, which contribute to their distinct singing sounds.

As for when they come out, katydids become most active during the warmer months of late spring, summer, and early fall. During this time, they are generally nocturnal creatures, and you’ll likely hear them singing at night.

In conclusion, by understanding a few basic characteristics and behaviors of katydids like their appearance, lifecycle, and singing habits, you can better appreciate these remarkable insects and know when to expect them in your surroundings.

Physical Characteristics

Anatomy

Katydids, belonging to the family Tettigoniidae, have some unique physical features that set them apart from other insects. They have:

  • Long, thin antennae, which are usually longer than their body
  • Six legs with four-segmented feet
  • A set of wings that includes both forewings and hindwings
  • An ovipositor in females, used for laying eggs
  • A tympanum (ear-like structure) located on their forelegs or abdomen

These characteristics allow them to thrive in their environments and communicate effectively with each other.

Camouflage and Mimicry

One of the most fascinating aspects of katydids is their ability to blend into their surroundings. Their camouflage and mimicry skills include:

  • Green body color that resembles leaves, making them nearly undetectable in trees or foliage
  • Wing patterns that can mimic the appearance of flowers, further hiding them from predators
  • Amazing resemblance to leaves, not only in color but also in shape and texture

This extraordinary camouflage helps katydids to avoid predation and thrive in their natural habitats, such as trees and flowers. The combination of their unique anatomy and impressive mimicry skills makes katydids an intriguing group of insects to study and appreciate.

Life Cycle of Katydids

From Eggs to Adults

Katydids, like other insects, undergo a series of changes as they progress through their life cycle. They begin as eggs, hatch into nymphs, and eventually become adult katydids. Let’s take a closer look at these stages:

  • Eggs: Female katydids lay their eggs at the end of summer. The eggs are usually gray and oval in shape and are inserted along the edges of leaves.
  • Nymphs: Nymphs resemble mini-adults and are wingless. They hatch and appear in April and May. These tiny creatures have black and white-banded antennae and undergo multiple molts as they grow.
  • Adults: After 2 to 3 months and 6 to 8 molts, nymphs mature into adults. Adult katydids have long antennae, green color, and are about 1.5 to 2.5 inches in length.

Reproductive Cycle

The reproductive cycle of katydids revolves around mating, egg-laying, and the production of spermatophylax. Let’s explore these aspects further:

  • Mating: Male and female katydids mate to produce offspring. Male katydids attract their female counterparts by producing sounds with their front wings.
  • Egg-laying: Once mating has occurred, females carry out the process of egg-laying, as mentioned earlier.
  • Spermatophylax: An interesting aspect of katydid reproduction is the production of spermatophylax. This is a nutritious gelatinous substance provided by male katydids during mating, which is consumed by females. This gift may help enhance the chances of successful reproduction.

Remember, the life cycle of katydids usually lasts for about one year. As you watch these fascinating insects in your backyard or local park, you’ll now have a greater appreciation for their unique life cycle and reproductive process.

Behavior of Katydids

Communication and Sounds

Katydids, also known as long-horned grasshoppers, are known for their unique sounds. They sing and chirp throughout the night as a form of communication. Their characteristic sounds are produced through a process called stridulation, which involves rubbing their wings together.

Males are the ones who produce these sounds, usually for territorial or mating purposes. For example, they might engage in duets with other males to establish dominance or attract a female. Some species even have aggressive calls to warn off potential threats.

Defense Mechanisms

The katydid’s primary defense mechanism is camouflage. They have a green body that resembles leaves which helps them to blend in with their environment, providing protection from predators.

Apart from their coloration, katydids also use their sounds for defensive purposes. As mentioned earlier, they can produce aggressive calls to ward off threats. Additionally, they can act defensively when startled, by making sudden, loud noises or even using their powerful hind legs to jump away from danger.

In summary, katydids are fascinating creatures with unique ways of communicating and defending themselves. By understanding their behavior, you can better appreciate these often-overlooked insects and their important role in the ecosystem.

Habitats and Distribution

Global Presence

Katydids thrive in various habitats around the world, especially in the tropics. They are widespread in the south, with some species even inhabiting the Amazon Rainforest. In these regions, you’ll typically find katydids in dense forests, grasslands, or shrubs.

Katydid in Gardens

Katydids can also be found in your own garden, nestled within flowering plants and shrubs. They are attracted to gardens due to the abundance of food and hiding spots. To encourage katydids in your garden, consider incorporating a mix of plants, flowers, and shrubs to create the perfect habitat.

  • Pros of having katydids in your garden:

    • They contribute to natural pest control by preying on smaller insects.
    • They help with pollination as they move from flower to flower.
  • Cons of having katydids in your garden:

    • They may nibble on leaves and flowers, causing minor plant damage.
    • Noisy mating calls during the night could be a disturbance.

In conclusion, the habitat and distribution of katydids are diverse, with these insects found in both tropical regions and local gardens. As such, it’s not uncommon to spot them in various habitats like forests, grasslands, shrubs, or even in your own backyard.

Diet and Predation

Feeding Patterns

Katydids, belonging to the family Tettigoniidae, have diverse feeding habits depending on their species. Most of the katydids, particularly those within the subfamily Phaneropterinae, prefer to feed on plant matter like stems, leaves, flowers, pollen, and fruits. You will often find them munching on lush foliage during the night to stay safe from predators.

Some katydids, including the Microcentrum species, are known to have different eating patterns:

  • They mainly eat leaves and stems.
  • Occasionally, they will also consume pollen and fruits.
  • They tend to be more active during the night and remain hidden during the day.

Predatory Behavior

While many katydids consume plants, some species exhibit predatory behavior and are known to hunt for prey, including insects and other arthropods. Such predatory katydids typically have unique adaptations that aid them in their hunting.

For example, predatory katydids may have powerful mouthparts or strong forelegs that help them capture and subdue their prey. Engaging in predation can also offer a broader range of food sources and may even help control pests in their natural environment.

As you observe katydids in their habitat, it’s essential to understand the following characteristics:

  • Diet may vary among species (plant-based or carnivorous).
  • Most of them are nocturnal, with their feeding habits occurring primarily during the night.
  • Certain katydids exhibit both herbivorous and carnivorous feeding patterns, showcasing their adaptability in different environments.

By learning about their diverse feeding patterns and predatory behavior, you can better appreciate the role these fascinating creatures play in their ecosystem.

Katydids and Pests

Katydids, being closely related to grasshoppers and crickets, are part of the Orthoptera order. They are mostly known for their leaf-like appearance and their nighttime chirping sounds. However, it’s important to note that some katydids, like other orthopterans such as locusts and grasshoppers, can cause damage to plants.

These insects feed on different parts of plants, such as leaves, flowers, and fruits. While the majority of katydids are not considered harmful pests, there are certain species that can be problematic when their population becomes dense. Some examples of problematic katydids include the larger grasshopper-like species, which can feed on and damage crops.

On the other hand, katydids are also known to prey on small insects like aphids. In this sense, they can be considered helpful in controlling the population of these smaller pests. It’s important to strike a balance between their beneficial and detrimental effects on your garden or farm.

Here’s a comparison of different orthopteran insects:

Insect Size Diet Known as Pests Beneficial Role
Katydids 1.5-2 inches Plant-based Sometimes Prey on aphids
Grasshoppers 1-4 inches Plant-based Yes Minimal
Crickets 0.5-2 inches Omnivorous Sometimes Help break down organic matter
Locusts 1-4 inches Plant-based Yes None

To keep your garden or farm healthy and prevent damage from katydids, it’s essential to monitor their population. If you notice an increased density of katydids or any sign of crop damage, take appropriate control measures to protect your plants. Always remember to use environmentally friendly and targeted methods when dealing with any pest problem.

A few ways to control katydids and other orthopteran pests include:

  • Introducing their natural predators such as birds and parasitic wasps
  • Using insecticidal soaps or oils targeting only the harmful insects
  • Employing physical barriers like nettings to prevent them from reaching your plants

Special Species and Varieties

In this section, we will discuss some special species and varieties of katydids. They include the True Katydid, Angle Wing Katydids, Bush and Meadow Katydids, and Tropical Katydids.

True Katydid

The True Katydid (Pterophylla camellifolia) is a fascinating insect with unique features:

  • It’s known for its loud and distinct song, which is often heard at night.
  • Males produce the song by rubbing their wings together to attract females.

Some characteristics of the True Katydid include:

  • Large size, measuring about 2 inches in length
  • Green color, which helps them blend in with leaves

Angle Wing Katydids

Greater Angle-wing Katydids (Microcentrum rhombifolium) are distinguished by their striking appearance:

  • They have large, angular wings that resemble leaves.
  • They are usually green, sometimes with brown accents.

Advantages of their unique wing shape include:

  • Better camouflage, allowing them to blend in with their environment
  • Protection against predators

Bush and Meadow Katydids

Bush and Meadow Katydids, such as the Scudderia species, are usually smaller in size. Features of these katydids include:

  • Variety of colors, such as green, brown, or yellow
  • Their habitat ranges from bushes to meadows

Some benefits of their smaller size are:

  • They can easily hide in the foliage
  • Their agility allows them to quickly escape from predators

Tropical Katydids

Tropical Katydids showcase the most diverse characteristics:

  • They inhabit warm, humid environments
  • Many species exhibit vibrant colors and unique appearances

Here’s a comparison of the different katydids discussed in this section:

Species Size Color Wings Habitat
True Katydid Large (2 in) Green No Angle Forests
Angle Wing Medium Green/Brown Angular Various
Bush & Meadow Small Varied No Angle Bushes/Meadows
Tropical Varied Vibrant/Unique Diverse Tropical

By understanding the distinctions between these katydid species, you can better appreciate their role in the ecosystem.

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 – Paralyzed Drumming Katydids found in Nest of a Grass Carrier Wasp

 

Subject: paralized grasshoppers in nest above my door?! Could they be victims or wasps?
Location: Andover, MA
July 2, 2012 7:53 pm
I opened my screen door and out drops dozens of small green grasshoppers (not sure what kind) onto my head!…
They are alive but not able to move very much. My guess is they were parasitized by a wasp. If this it true, I’m assuming wasp eggs were laid in these pretty little things.
I would love to know for sure!
Thanks BugMan!
Roberta
Signature: covered in grasshoppers

Paralyzed Drumming Katydid Nymph

Hi Roberta,
We will be writing to both Piotr Naskrecki and Eric Eaton to try to get to the bottom of this food chain mystery.  These are not Grasshoppers because their antennae are too long.  They are some immature Longhorned Orthopteran in the suborder Ensifera.  The specimen in hand appears to be a juvenile female because of the presence of an Ovipositor.  Perhaps Piotr who specializes in Katydids can provide species or genus information.  Thank you for including the nesting material.  It is most unusual and we do not know of a Parasitic Wasp that uses straw to build a nest, but perhaps Piotr or Eric will know more on that subject.

Paralyzed Drumming Katydid Nymphs with nesting material

Piotr Naskrecki identifies Katydids
Hi Daniel,
Cannot tell you much about who paralyzed these katydids (my guess would be a sphecid wasp of some kind), but the insects themselves are nymphs of Meconema thalassinum, a European species, introduced and now common in the Eastern US.
Cheers,
Piotr

Ed. Note:  BugGuide identifies Meconema thalassinumas the Drumming Katydid.

Cache of Katydids from Nest

Eric Eaton provides a likely Predator:  Grass Carrier Wasp
Hi Daniel, Piotr:
Very interesting!  The wasps building the straw nests would be “grass-carriers” in the genus Isodontia, family Sphecidae.  I think the host here would be a new record since the wasps are native but the prey is not.  There are at least three or four Isodontia spp. in Massachusetts, so without at least an image of the wasp we can’t make an association.
Eric

Update from Roberta:  Larvae Emerge
Hi Daniel,
Thanks for the response. Larvae have started emerging from the katydids.  I have attached a couple of photos.  I did the best I could without a macro lens.
I have wasps buzzing around my house with little pieces of straw in-hand.   So a wasp came to mind as the culprit when the katydids dropped on my head.
They are still on my deck;  I would like to put them out of their misery if that’s okay?
Thanks again!
Roberta

Wasp Larvae emerge and feed on Katydids

Ed. Note:  We missed Roberta’s first update and we added them to the original posting out of order.
Hi Roberta,
We somehow missed your first update.  While we understand the sympathy you feel for the Katydids, we can’t help but to marvel at the cache of Drumming Katydids that the Grass Carrying Wasp assembled and we hate to see that effort go to waste.  We wish you could provide a suitable substitute habitat and let nature take its course.

Update from Roberta:  Photo of the predator
Hi Daniel,
I attached a photo of the wasp .  I believe this is the species of wasp that is parasitizing the Drumming katydids.   There were a number of these wasps flying around carrying pieces of grass.  This one, however, isn’t.
I hope this helps.
Thanks!
Roberta

Grass Carrier Wasp

Hi Roberta,
We feel we are making a conviction based on circumstantial evidence, but we are nonetheless pleased to arrive at the same conclusion that you have:  that this Grass Carrier Wasp or one of its relatives built the grass nest that was provisioned with immature Drumming Katydids.  Thank you so much for the follow-up.  This is exactly the type of interactive posting we love, complete with expert testimony.  Additionally, through a continued effort on your part, you photographed the interconnectivity between these two species, the predator and the prey.  It should be noted that like other wasps that prey upon insects, it is done for the purpose of feeding a brood.  The adults feed on nectar, most likely because during the evolutionary process, parents that did not compete with their young for the same food supply produced more offspring since food did not have to be shared.

Hi Daniel,
The scientist in me decided to let nature take its course; I placed the katydids in a covered area of my yard.
I kept one of the katydids to follow the development of the Grass Carrying Wasp.
I will let you know if I am successful in raising the wasp to adulthood.
Thanks so much for your wonderful site.
Roberta

 

Letter 2 – Koringkriek from South Africa

 

Big Bug in Kruger
Location: Letaba Rest Camp, Kruger National Park, South Africa
July 28, 2011 4:09 pm
Hi there Bugman,
What’s this bug? One of the most fascinating creatures I’ve ever captured on film. We met on mondaymorning May 29 back in 2006 in Kruger National Park. Would like to know his name.
Thanks in advance!
Tom from The Netherlands

Koringkriek

Hi Tom,
This is a Longhorned Orthopteran, Eugaster longipes, and it is called a Koringkriek.  We posted a photo back in 2009 when we did all the original research.  The Wilkinson’s World Blog calls it an Armored Ground Cricket.  The Encyclopedia of Life website classifies it as a Katydid in the family Tettigoni1dae, and we would surmise that it is also a Shield Backed Katydid in the subfamily Tettigoniinae.

Koringkriek

Letter 3 – Moss Mimic Katydid from Costa Rica

 

Subject: Big grasshopper!!
Location: Monteverde, Costa Rica
February 5, 2016 11:24 pm
Hello Mr. Bugman!
I am so happy to have found your website. I am often curious as to what kind of bug I’ve found and now there is a resource! I have here a picture I took at Cala Lodge in Monteverde, Costa Rica last month. This huge grasshopper looked like he would camouflage very well in a tree. Helooked like he had a piece of leaf sticking out of his neck. Can you tell me what kind of grasshopper this is?
Thanking you in advance for your time,
Signature: Lise

Moss Mimic Katydid
Moss Mimic Katydid

Dear Lise,
This is NOT a Grasshopper.  It is a Katydid.  We believe it is a Moss Mimic Katydid,
Haemodiasma tessellata, a highland species that is already pictured on our site, or a closely related species in the same genus.  We noticed you have three additional identification requests, all titled as Katydids.  We did not look at the images yet.  If they are in fact all Katydids, we will attempt to get Katydid expert Piotr Naskrecki to verify our identifications when they are all posted.

Piotr Naskrecki Responds
Hi Daniel,
Yes, the big, mossy katydid is Haemodiasma tessellata.
Cheers,
Piotr

That’s excellent!  Thank you for taking the time to look into this photo.  A moss mimic katydid.  How cool is that!?  🙂  I can’t wait to go back to Costa Rica.  I plan to pay way more attention to the insects there next time.  So different from what we have here in northern Canada.
Thanks again,
Lise

Letter 4 – Mimicking Snout-Nosed Katydid from Australia

 

Australian Grasshopper
April 10, 2010
Hi Bugman, would this be a grasshopper? Besides the eyes, I was also curious about the reddish/orange thing it had on its neck, but looking at grasshopper photos I guess it’s its mouth, not a tick or something gorging on it…
Best,
Ridou
Ridou Ridou
Sydney Australia

Conehead Katydid

Read more

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 … Read more

Katydid: All You Need to Know in a Quick Guide

Katydids are fascinating insects belonging to the order Orthoptera, closely related to crickets and grasshoppers. There are approximately 6,400 species of katydids found worldwide, known for their distinct long antennae and vertically positioned wings that resemble leaves source. These insects can be found in various habitats, including forests, parks, and yards. Known for their leaf-like … Read more

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 … Read more