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Katydid

Katydids

Katydid is the common name of certain large, singing, winged insects belonging to the long-horned family (Tettigoniidae) in the order Orthoptera. Katydids are green or, occasionally, pink and range in size from 1-1/4" — 5" long. They are mostly nocturnal and arboreal; they sing in the evening.

Males have song-producing, or stridulating, organs located on their front wings. Females respond to the shrill song of the males with a sound that supposedly sounds like “katy did, katy didn’t,” hence the name.

The katydid song serves a function in courtship, which occurs in late summer. The female lays eggs in the ground or in plant tissue; the eggs hatch in spring. Newly hatched katydids resemble the adults except for their smaller size and lack of wings. Katydids are common in the eastern United States and are also found in the tropics. They are classified in the phylum Arthropoda, class Insecta, order Orthoptera, family Tettigoniidae.

Katydid Habitat

Katydids are found throughout the world, in habitats ranging from tropical to temperate or arid environments. Angular winged katydids are found in temperate and arid regions of the southern United States.

Physical Characteristics of the Katydid

Angular-winged katydids are 2" — 2-1/2" in length. They have chewing mouthparts and long slender antennae, and are light green in color. Adult katydids have two pairs of wings that are leaf-like in color and shape.

Life Span

About one year

Katydid Diet

In the wild: Angular-winged katydids typically eat the leaves of willow, rosewood and citrus trees. Most katydids are herbivorous, consuming foliage, stems, flower petals, fruit of trees, weeds, and crops; some also eat nectar and pollen, while a few are known carnivores that prey on other insects. All katydids are capable of biting and may do so if handled roughly.

Reproduction

Male and female angular-winged katydids look alike, except for the female’s hook-like ovipositor (special organ used for depositing eggs in a selected place) at the tip of her abdomen. During mating, a spermatophore is transferred from the male to the female’s genital opening. Within 15 — 20 minutes, the sperm is moved into the female’s body.

Eggs are tan and glued to the underside of leaves. It takes 2 — 3 months for the eggs to hatch. Metamorphosis is incomplete in katydids; therefore, nymphs look similar to the adults. The only differences are that they are very small and lack wings.

Life Cycle

Young katydids reach adult stage in 3 — 4 months. Since they have such a short lifespan, most katydids’ social behavior involves courtship and mating. Predators include birds and some amphibians. As a defense strategy against predators, katydids use their coloration as camouflage. If they are spotted by a predator, regardless of their coloration, katydids will take flight as a means of escape.

Romantic Serenade

Once heard, one does not forget the katydid's song. In hopes of luring a mate, one forewing of the male has an area much like a file that is rubbed quickly against a scraper area on the other forewing. The result: an evening serenade. Male katydids can control the loudness of their music. To produce a louder sound, they slightly raise their forewings, forming a small cavity in which the sound resonates and increases in volume.

Unlike most other katydid species, female angular-winged katydids respond to males with a soft song telling of their willingness to mate. Humans even imitate the female’s call in hopes of encouraging males to sing their romantic serenade.

 


Katydid