The Katydid Song

Blog Category
Discover Nature Notes
Published Display Date
Jul 24, 2017

It wouldn't be summertime without the surround sound of insects.  One of the loudest and most familiar calls belongs to the katydids.

These insects make their distinct “katy-did-katy-didn’t” song by rubbing their wings together.  The sharp edge of the right front wing moves rapidly against a file-like ridge on the left front wing.

To produce a more intense signal, they synchronize their calls with other katydids hidden in the tree tops.  Both male and female katydids sing to attract mates, and use their long antennae to find each other.  After mating in the fall, the female lays her eggs on bark and young stems. The eggs are dormant through winter and hatch the following spring.

Unlike grasshoppers and crickets, both male and female katydids make sounds.  Most have green bodies with long slender legs and veined oval wings that resemble leaves.  However, a genetic mutation, caused by recessive genes producing too little pigment, can sometimes cause the usually green bug to appear bright pink.

Katydids are much easier to hear than to see in the summer.  Listen for their loud calls on summer evenings.

Katydid Calling

  • The raucous nighttime calling of males attracts females for mating. 
  • Katydids are slow walkers, and tend to jump only when frightened. 
  • Their wings function mainly as parachutes, breaking their fall after they have leapt. 
  • Because they generally remain in high treetops, they are rarely seen until cool weather in au-tumn makes them clumsy and causes them to land, more and more, on the ground.
  • The green common true katydid is a leaf eater and is preyed upon by numerous birds, snakes, and other predators that hunt in treetops. One clue that the katydid might be preyed upon heavily is their exquisite camouflage: Hiding is very important to them!

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