True Katydids

The term “katydid” originated in North America. When early Americans beheld the raucous ch-ch-ch of Common True Katydids (Pterophylla camellifolia),they were compelled to make the sound part of their folklore. Several tales continue to circulate and our favorite goes like this: There was a woman named Katy who fell in love with a handsome young man, but she was scorned, and the man married another. Soon after, the couple was found dead, poisoned in their beds. No person saw what happened, but perhaps the bugs were watching, and on hot summer nights, they shout from the trees and tell us who-dunnit: katy-did, katy-did, katydid!

The true katydids are an extremely diverse group, with over one thousand species found worldwide. Yet only four species are found in North America, represented by three genera. Of these, the Common True Katydid — the quintessential noisy katydid with which most of us are familiar — is the only wide-ranging species in the East, and the only species covered in this guide.

The Common True Katydid is built like a tank, with cupped wings that give it a formidable appearance. Although they do not bite, they often squawk loudly when handled, puffing themselves up by holding their forewings away from their abdomen. Their fore-wings are well developed, but true katydids are apparently unable to fly, lacking hind-wings. At most, when disturbed, they may leap from a leafy perch and flutter to the ground, where they walk to nearby tree trunks and climb back into the canopy.

Although they spend most of their life high in trees, they often gather in dense choruses during the breeding season, and individuals may sometimes be encountered walking across roads as they move toward noisy congregations. Rarely do males call from shrubs or small trees.

Females lay eggs in crevices in the bark or in soft plant tissue. The eggs hatch in the spring, and the nymphs feed on foliage until they reach adulthood, most never leaving the shelter of the canopy, and possibly the tree in which they were born.

 
 

Our Insect Musicians:

Introduction
Biology of Insect Song
Human Hearing & Insect Song
Beginner’s Guide to Song IDs
Advanced Guide to Song IDs
How to Find and Watch
Singing Insects as Pets
Relaxing Insect MP3s

Master List of Species
(with sounds)

Navigate to Species Pages:

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FAMILY DESCRIPTION

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Meadow Katydids (Tettigoniidae):
FAMILY DESCRIPTION
Saltmarsh Meadow Katydid
Short-winged Meadow Katydid
Slender Meadow Katydid
Woodland Meadow Katydid
Straight-lanced Meadow Katydid
Agile Meadow Katydid
Black-legged Meadow Katydid
Common Meadow Katydid
Gladiator Meadow Katydid
Handsome Meadow Katydid
Lesser Pine Meadow Katydid
Long-spurred Meadow Katydid
Red-headed Meadow Katydid
Coneheads (Copiphorinae):
FAMILY DESCRIPTION
Round-tipped Conehead
Nebraska Conehead
Robust Conehead
Slightly Musical Conehead
Sword-bearing Conehead
False Robust Conehead
True Katydids (Pseudophyllinae):
FAMILY DESCRIPTION
Common True Katydid
False Katydids (Phaneropterinae):
FAMILY DESCRIPTION
Clicker Round-winged Katydid
Common Virtuoso Katydid
Rattler Round-winged Katydid
Oblong-winged Katydid
Great Angle-wing
Lesser Angle-wing
Broad-winged Bush Katydid
Curved-tailed Bush Katydid
Fork-tailed Bush Katydid
Northern Bush Katydid
Texas Bush Katydid
Treetop Bush Katydid
Shield-backed Katydids (Tettigoniinae):
FAMILY DESCRIPTION
American Shieldback
Least Shieldback
Protean Shieldback
Robust Shieldback
Roesel’s Katydid

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