In many parts of the U.S., a staple of a summer night’s natural sounds is the background chorus conducted by vast numbers of katydids.
Like other insects, they produce their call by stridulation, rubbing their upper wings together, which can produce loud and complex sounds. The story behind this insect’s odd name is that it comes from the sound: “Katy did, Katy didn’t.”
There are actually many species of katydids, more than 250 in the U.S. and some 6,000 worldwide. While American katydids are often bright green, worldwide they come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors. Katydids are also known as bush crickets and long-horned grasshoppers. They have a different shape than grasshoppers, many species being taller than they are wid, unlike grasshoppers, and have far longer antennae.
Katydids are mostly nocturnal. These are large insects, often one to three inches. One species has a wingspan of nine inches. They can live for a year or more, a long life for an insect. They feed primarily on leaves, but also eat flowers and may snack on aphids. Katydids are a nice snack for a bat, and some bats home in on Katydid calls. Katydids fight the bats’ homing in by introducing tremulations, which amounts to tapping a plant so vibrations travel down a plant stem, which females can feel.
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