Katy Did Creep Me Out

It’s a new month and that means a minimum of another 6 posts.  Based on my productivity in the darkroom as of late coupled with the need to really get through a backlog of topics, this month may end up having a few extra posts – a bonus if you will.  I already have the images worked up for another 7 posts and have another 8 or so in the queue that just need some finishing work on the images and upload to the Smugmug galleries.  probably put emphasis on the photography aspects more than the textual part but we’ll see how it goes.  Once I start typing I tend to get immersed and next thing you know it’s a small novel.  Also have a variety of topics ..yes, including birds.. so it should be a fun month.

Figured I’d start with a theme that hasn’t been covered in awhile – those creatures that roam the night and are drawn the warm glow of our porch light.  That’s right, another dose of a night out with the Macro.

This particular set of shots was taken at two distinct times during the Spring/Summer months.  I forgot to write down the exact dates but I am making an assumption that this first set was taken in the Spring because I think this particular creature is a Tettigoniida or more commonly referred to as a Katydid or Bush Cricket.  In our region they are referred to as Katydids.

The reason I think this was taken in the Spring is this is when the Katydid’s hatch into nymphs.  These nymphs look identical to their adult form with the exception of not having their wings.  We’ll get to those images a little later in the post.  At first I was searching the grasshopper reference books assuming it was one of those.  Through luck (as in using the Google search criteria of “large green bug”) the possibility of the Katydid came up.  Again, the part that was throwing me was the lack of leaf like wings.  The long antennae, the lanky legs and the profile of the body seemed to fit.  Upon careful examination, it did appear that there were tiny little wings starting to emerge on the side.  You can just make them out if you look straight up from the middle leg.

Hit the jump to read more about the Katydid

For size reference I did use the marker I keep on the porch for this very purpose.

So, about the length of two pennies and about half the thickness at a nymph level.    Later, during the Summer months is my guess without going back and verifying, another session found an adult form of the Katydid.  Essentially the same profile but with two large wings that kind of mimic a new leaf.

This particular one was just a little bit bigger but might just be an illusion with the larger wings.  Same lanky legs, same green coloring and one ugly grasshopper like face. Oh, and sure enough, those long antennae were still there.  According to our friends over at Wikipedia, this is actually a distinguishing feature over grasshoppers since their  antennae are relatively short and thickened.

They must have pretty sticky feet since this one was having no trouble hanging on to our smooth plastic down posts.  You can see in a few of the following shots it looks like there is a little ‘Y’ on their feet.  I am not sure where, but the reference books mentioned their ear mechanisms are actually located on their front legs.

News to me, these green insects were given their Katydid name because of their song which is produced by rubbing their wings together.  Their song sounds like Katy Did, Katy Didn’t… and I’m not referring to whether (drum roll..) she kissed a girl or not.  Anyone living out in the the country is VERY familiar with this racket.

How about a few interesting facts.  You would think that the size of those wings in proportion to the body would make them very efficient fliers, but in truth Britannica claims they are poor in the air preferring instead to simply flutter them during leaps.  Their average lifespan is one year from egg to death.  They have leaves, flowers etc in their diet and some species will also prey on small insects.  I have never witnessed a Katydid on our property enjoying a tasty insects – in fact, not once I have ever seen them doing anything other than just hanging out alone doing nothing in particular.  There are over 255 species in North America alone (more than 6400 in total) and  inhabit every continent but Antarctica.

They are also more closely linked to crickets than grasshoppers which is interesting since their facial structure looks exactly like the latter.  You can view the different North American species at the University of Florida Entomology page (link here).   Or if you want to hear their song because you prefer to live in a concrete jungle feel free to check the sound bites there as well (link here).  Just to give you a perspective of the adult size, here is a finger reference (obviously the standard penny approach doesn’t work vertically)

Surprisingly, while researching this, noticed that the Katydid can actually bite.  More of a pressure pain since they rarely break the skin but of all the times I’ve played with these insects over the years never considered them a threat.  You would think I would have learned my lesson to keep fingers safe away by now thanks to the  snapping turtle event.

That’s all for now, hope you enjoyed!

2 thoughts on “Katy Did Creep Me Out”

  1. What, no bird?! Wait a minute, that could be a bird, right? Am I on the right blog?

    Nonetheless, whatever blog I’m on I like the pictures of the Katydid. And the growth of the wings is cool. I don’t think PETA would like that you held down the Katydid by it’s antenna there, mister.

    I didn’t know their name came from their song, but because of that I now know how to spell “Katydid”. I’m not sure I could have spelled it correctly before. Here’s more info from the link you provided to hear the songs:

    “In northern populations the pulse rate within each phrase is slow (ca. 8 per sec.), and the most frequent numbers of pulses per phrase are three and two. This permits the song to be rendered “Ka-ty-did, she-didn’t, she-did.” Alternating individuals sound as though they are arguing about whether Katy did or didn’t.”

    The good thing is that now I know where to go to steal a penny.

    Thanks for the pictures and commentary!



  2. Not a bird, but your are on the right blog. Guessing PETA will appreciate the fact I ONLY held it down temporarily and the LET IT GO – I had already found a frying pan and had the stove going for a little late night crunchy snack! Since it behaved so well while I was photographing it I decided to let it go and live a fruitful one year life assuming it survived the gauntlet of insect eating birds that roam our yards. Sounds like they can have quite the debate on whether she kissed a girl – I’m with the group that thinks she did and I am pretty sure she liked it. I suggest you leave that penny right there buster – otherwise you’ll feel the wrath from the millions of my readers who won’t be able to tell if that insect is 10 stories tall (prompting a run like hell) or a pin head creature (or as we like to call it around here .. food spice).

    Thanks for stopping by … and yes, there are birds on the way!


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