Male Katydid
Male Katydid

Category: Grasshopper or Cricket
Common Name: Katydid
Scientific Name: Microcentrum rhombifolium

Scientific Classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Orthoptera
Suborder: Ensifera
Family: Tettigoniidae


Katydids are relatives of grasshoppers and crickets. They can be distinguished from their relatives by the length of their long filamentous antennae that could exceed their own body length, while grasshopper antennae are short and thick. Katydids can grow to over two inches long and sometimes resemble leaves. They have a thick body, usually taller than it is wide, and thin long legs. On its legs are flat patches that catch sound waves and act as ears. In addition to the ability to "hear", Katydids can feel and smell with their antennas and see with their two eyes perched on the top of their heads. A Katydids hind legs are longer than the front and middle legs, and are usually used for jumping.They have oval-shaped wings with numerous veins and are usually leaf-green in color. All species of Katydid contain a special structure on its wings that can be rubbed together to produce a high-pitched chirping sound. As a means of self-defense, Katydids are camouflaged to blend in with the leaves they feed and rest upon. Katydids are ectothermic, meaning that they must use heat acquired from the environment to regulate body temperature. Females are usually larger than males, and have a long sharp structure at the end of the abdomen. This structure is called an "ovipositor" and is used for sticking the eggs into the ground or into plant stems. Some full grown adult Katydids have the ability to fly.

Female Katydid with its Ovipositor
Female Katydid with its Ovipositor

Habitat Needs

Katydids live mainly in forests and thickets, but are also found in fields where lots of shrubs and bushes are present. They spend most of their lives on the plants that they eat. Therefore, they need habitats where plants are readily available. In fact, most plant habitats usually contain at least a few katydid species. While Katydids can live in many different climates, they are mainly found in temperate, tropical and terrestrial regions. Some of the terrestrial biomes in which these insects are found in are taiga, desert or dune, chaparral, forest, rain forest, scrub forest and mountains.

Katydid Emulating a Leaf
Katydid Emulating a Leaf

Geographic Range

There are hundreds of katydids species that can be found all over the world. However, the greatest richness of katydid species is in tropical areas. The biogeographic regions in which this insect can be found native are the neartic, paleartic, oriental, neotropical and australian ecozones.

Mating Behavior

Breeding season for the Katydid population is usually in late Summer and early Fall. Male Katydids produce a mating call in order to attract females to produce offspring. When the male finds its mate they reproduce sexually, or create an offspring by combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female, with the use of an egg and sperm. Katydids are oviparous, meaning that in the reproduction of an offspring the eggs are released by the female and the development of that offspring occurs outside the mothers body. When the female Katydid lays her eggs she chooses to do it on the underside of leaves and tree branches.The eggs are ready to hatch the next spring into nymphs.

Katydid Eggs Destroyed by a Predator
Katydid Eggs Destroyed by a Predator

Picture Of Katydid Eggs on a Branch
Picture Of Katydid Eggs on a Branch

Male Katydid Mating Call:

Life Cycle

Katydids have incomplete metamorphosis. When the nymphs hatch from their eggs they come out appearing to look a lot like an adult Katydid. However, the nymphs do not have wings. As they grow, katydids go through the process of molting. Molting is a process in which an insect routinely sheds its exoskeleton to replace it with a new, better fitting one. They get their wings, become adults, and stop growing after the last molt ends. Katydids usually live for a year or less because they cannot survive the harsh conditions of the winter. It is only in the tropics where some species can live up to several years.

Feeding Habits

A Katydid's diet consists primarily of leaves, flowers, bark and seeds. They also sometimes eat dead insects, insect eggs and small slow moving insects such as the aphid. However, there are many Katydid species in the tropics that are predatory and feed on other insects and small invertebrates. Some examples of invertebrates that the Katydids eat are small snakes or lizards. Most Katydids are nocturnal and thus are able to move around more without the chance of being seen by predators such as ants, wasps, spiders, birds, bats and tree frogs.

Female Katydid Being Consumed by Ants
Female Katydid Being Consumed by Ants

Ecological Role

Various species of Katydids chew holes or notches on the edges of leaves which rarely causes serious damage to established woody plants. They are beneficial to the ecology because they eat aphids, which are harmful to plants. Plants exhibiting aphid damage can have a variety of symptoms, such as decreased growth rates, mottled leaves, yellowing, stunted growth, curled leaves, browning, wilting, low yields and death. Therefore Katydids can aid crop production by reducing the population of aphids. Katydids have no other direct effects on humans.

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