The Good Katy

Kelly’s Field Notes

Common Name: Katydid, Bush Cricket

Order: Orthoptera

Family: Tettigoniidae

Species of Note Near You (There are more than 8,000 species of katydid!):


Katydids come in a pretty wide range of sizes! From the smallest species, the slender meadow katydid (Conocephalus fasciatus) at 1.8-2.6 cm in length (0.7-1 in) to the largest species, the giant Malaysian katydid (Arachnacris corporalis) at 15 cm (6 in) in length. Due to a harsher climate, you’ll generally find the little guys in dryer spaces as they can handle the desiccation risk (less surface area). The larger species are in tropical regions. They are usually leaf shaped though some, like the lichen katydid (Markia hystrix), have more elaborate camouflage.

If you’re not sure if you’re looking at a grasshopper or a katydid, check their antennae! Katydid antennae are long, sometimes longer than their bodies, while grasshoppers have shorter thicker antennae. Due to their nocturnal nature, long antennae help the katydid find its way around in the dark.

Katydids are usually green, brown or tan (mostly green), but they can come in some surprising colors! Pink, orange, yellow katydids are out there. In North America, the oblong-winged katydid’s (Amblycorypha oblongifolia) dominant color is actually pink! This means only one parent needs to carry the pink gene in order for their offspring to be pink. We might have far more greens due to “directional selection” or one color has greater fitness over the other. Our pink friends stand out in the wild, so even though they are the dominant color they are getting eaten first. If a pink adult breeds with a green adult they will produce 50%/50% pink/green offspring.

Life Cycle: 

Katydids go through incomplete metamorphosis: egg, nymph, adult. Females lay their eggs in plants, typically in a row. Female ovipositors are either sickle-shaped or long and straight. Sickle-shaped ovipositors curve down, to deposit eggs into leaf litter while the straight ovipositors deposit eggs into grass stems. Here they will overwinter until Spring. Once the weather is warm and the humidity is optimal, it takes between 45 and 60 days for the eggs to hatch.

Generally, nymphal katydids look like small wingless versions of their parents. But! Some are well camouflaged, instead looking like assassin bugs, ants or spiders. Katydids of genus Macroxophus resemble ants. They are so crafty about this only the bottom part of their long antennae is black, to trick the eye into thinking they are the short antennae of real ants! They are found in Asia and Micronesia.

It takes about five to eight molts for an immature katydid to reach adulthood. The nymph stage of their lives can take anywhere from 2 to 3 months to complete. During this time, the nymph feeds on leaves, stems, fruits, and small insects such as aphids.

Adult katydids eat leaves, flowers, and other plant parts but are also partial to any smaller insects they can catch. The larger tropical species are quite voracious with eating other bugs! Because katydids cannot tell the difference between our fingers and a juicy bug, they will sometimes bite.


In the evening you may have heard the siren song of the katydid, which sounds a lot like they are singing their name “katy-did, katy-didn’t, katy-did, katy-didn’t.” Not all katydids make this classic sound, but if you have those that do near you it is unmistakable. Different species have different mating calls, usually coming from males, whether to woo a female, mark a territory, or defend their territory. In some species, males and females form a duet and will “sing” together. The song of the katydid comes from the katydid rubbing a scraper-like part of their forewing on a comb-like “file” on the other forewing. This is called stridulation (think friction). Katydids receive this sound on eardrum-like membranes called tympana on their legs, which they sometimes lift to “hear” better with. Katydid song slows with the season, ending around October in North America.

Once a couple has come together, the male shares his sperm packet with the female. In order to demonstrate his great fitness, however, he will create a secondary packet of protein (spermatophylax) for her to consume. Depending on the species, this protein pack can require up to 40% of his body weight to create. If the protein pack is large, females seek out the males and the male will likely only mate one to two times in his lifetime. If the protein packet is small, females may be less likely to seek him out, but if successful he can mate several times in his life.

Super Powers:

Katydids in Culture:


Crew, Becky. “In North American Katydids, Green Isn’t the Dominant Colour, Pink Is.” Scientific American Blog Network, Accessed 24 Jan. 2024.

Joyce, C. (2023, April 21). Sound matters: Sex and death in the rain forest. KERA News. 

“Katydids / Citrus / Agriculture: Pest Management Guidelines / UC Statewide IPM Program (UC IPM).”,

‌‌Korsunovskaya, Olga et al. “Biology, sounds and vibratory signals of hooded katydids (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae: Phyllophorinae).” Zootaxa vol. 4852,3 zootaxa.4852.3.3. 16 Sep. 2020, doi:10.11646/zootaxa.4852.3.3

“Macroxiphus.” Wikipedia, 4 Sept. 2022, Accessed 26 Jan. 2024.

‌Mahr, Susan. “Katydids.” Wisconsin Horticulture,

‌“Species Conocephalus Fasciatus - Slender Meadow Katydid.”, Accessed 18 Jan. 2024.

‌“Species Stilpnochlora Couloniana - Giant Katydid.”, Accessed 18 Jan. 2024.

“THE KATYDID’S WARNING.” Native American History, 13 May 2020, Accessed 26 Jan. 2024.