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Local animals in this group:

katydids

Tettigoniidae

What do they look like?

Katydids are medium-sized to large insects. They are usually green, sometimes with brown markings. They have a thick body, usually taller than it is wide, and long thing legs. The hind legs are longer than the front or middle legs, and are often used for jumping. On the head they have chewing mouthparts and long thin antennae that reach back at least to the abdomen of the insect. The adults of some katydid species can fly, and all katydids are camouflaged to blend with the leaves they feed on.

In all species the front wings have special structures that can be rubbed together to make sounds. They hear these sounds with flat patches on their legs that act as ears.

Females are usually larger than males, and have a long sharp structure at the end of the abdomen. This looks like a stinger, but it is actually an "ovipositor." They use if for sticking their eggs into the ground or into plant stems.

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • female larger

Where do they live?

There are hundreds of katydids species, and they are found all over the world. As with most insect groups, the greatest richness of katydid species is in tropical areas. In Michigan we have about 20 species.

What kind of habitat do they need?

Katydids spend most of their lives on the plants that they eat, so they need habitats with lots of plants. They can live in lots of different climates, so any habitat with plants usually has at least a few katydid species.

How do they grow?

Katydids have incomplete metamorphosis. The nymph that hatches from an egg looks a lot like an adult, except that it doesn't have wings. As they grow, katydids shed their exoskeletons (this is called molting). In their last molt, they get wings and they become adults. After that they stop growing and don't molt any more.

How long do they live?

Most katydid species live for a year or less. Only one stage in the life-cycle (usually the eggs) can survive the winter. In the tropics some species can live for several years.

How do they behave?

Some katydid species are active during the day, but most are nocturnal. They can move around more then without being spotted by predators. Katydids are not social, they don't live in groups.

How do they communicate with each other?

Katydids use sound to communicate across distances. Sometimes nearby males will all call together, trying to attract females. They also use their antennae to touch and smell each other. They can see too.

What do they eat?

Katydids are primarily leaf-eaters. They sometimes eat other plant parts (especially flowers). They also sometimes eat dead insects, insect eggs or slow-moving insects like aphids. In the tropics some species are quite carnivorous.

What eats them and how do they avoid being eaten?

Katyids rely on their excellent camouflage for protection. They can also jump very quickly, and spend most of their time in trees and bushes. The adults of some species can fly.

Do they cause problems?

  • Ways that these animals might be a problem for humans
  • crop pest

How do they interact with us?

Katydids don't have much to do with humans. They are interesting to watch and listen to, but they don't have many direct effects on humans. Sometimes they damage crop plants, but this is rare.

Are they endangered?

No katydids are considered endangered. Some have become more rare because they need particular kinds of habitats or food plants.

  • IUCN Red List [Link]
    Not Evaluated

Some more information...

Some people think that the call of some katydids sounds like someone calling out the words "Katy Did! Katy Didn't! Katy Did! Katy Didn't!" That's where the family gets its common name.

Glossary

Australian

Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.

World Map

Ethiopian

living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.

World Map

Nearctic

living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map

Neotropical

living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map

Palearctic

living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

World Map

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends.

bog

a wetland area rich in accumulated plant material and with acidic soils surrounding a body of open water. Bogs have a flora dominated by sedges, heaths, and sphagnum.

carnivore

an animal that mainly eats meat

chaparral

mid-altitude coastal areas with mild, rainy winters and long, dry summers. Dominant plant types are dense, evergreen shrubs.

desert or dunes

in deserts low (less than 30 cm per year) and unpredictable rainfall results in landscapes dominated by plants and animals adapted to aridity. Vegetation is typically sparse, though spectacular blooms may occur following rain. Deserts can be cold or warm and daily temperates typically fluctuate. In dune areas vegetation is also sparse and conditions are dry. This is because sand does not hold water well so little is available to plants. In dunes near seas and oceans this is compounded by the influence of salt in the air and soil. Salt limits the ability of plants to take up water through their roots.

diurnal
  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.
ectothermic

animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature

fertilization

union of egg and spermatozoan

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

herbivore

An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body

iteroparous

offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

marsh

marshes are wetland areas often dominated by grasses and reeds.

mountains

This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

nocturnal

active during the night

oriental

found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map

oviparous

reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

rainforest

rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Climbing plants are also abundant. There is plenty of moisture and rain, but may be somewhat seasonal.

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sedentary

remains in the same area

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

solitary

lives alone

swamp

a wetland area that may be permanently or intermittently covered in water, often dominated by woody vegetation.

taiga

this biome is characterized by large expanses of coniferous forest, there is an extended cold season and heavy snowfall.

temperate

that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

tropical

the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

 
University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

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. "Tettigoniidae" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 16, 2014 at http://www.biokids.umich.edu/accounts/Tettigoniidae/

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
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