Thursday, October 8, 2009

Meadow Katydids

Meadow Katydids in the order Orthoptera, family Tettigoniidae are common insects found throughout all of North America. There are 61  different species, and many are difficult to identify. I think a fourth of those 61 different species were at Happy Holler Conservation Area a few weeks ago. Everywhere I turned there was some new and unique katydid. I thought I would share a few pictures of different varieties I have found in the past couple of weeks.

They will range in size from 1/2 inch to well over 3 inches. They come in a variety of colors, from green, brown, tan, to black like the one pictured here. Most all species will have a somewhat cone shaped head. In some species this will be very prominent, in others there will only be a slightly noticeable point, that can even have a somewhat rounded appearance.

These little guys can be difficult to find during the day, because of their coloring they blend in well with their environment. They will typically be associated with grassy, weedy areas. 

Night seems to be the best time to find these insects, especially the females. They will be feeding on the seed heads of various plants. 

Katydids begin appearing in the spring as tiny nymphs, feeding their way through tons of grasses and little seeds. Sometime late in the summer you will start noticing the adults. Breeding will begin in August and continue through October. Females will lay eggs in the soil and these eggs overwinter and hatch the following spring. The adults perish sometime after the first frost.

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