Friday, September 2, 2011

Katydid Season

Evenings in late summer and early fall here on the Cape are filled with the sounds, songs and chirps of gray tree frogs, crickets and katydids. So called Katy-did because they sound like that's what they are saying, these cousins to our familiar crickets are bright green, helping them be well camouflaged among the leaves they love to chomp upon.

This one landed on the hood of my car in Wellfleet earlier this week and hitched a ride to Marconi Beach.
If you have never seen a katydid, they are about 2" long though the nymphs are smaller and there are also several species. This one was pretty large and was unimpressed by my proximity with a camera.
Check out the extra long, extra fine antennae. Most grasshoppers and crickets have much shorter antennae.
These little critters will be laying eggs soon that will winter over before hatching into nymphs next spring. Katydids eat plants, such as oak leaves, which of course we have plenty of, and are quite common to find in grassy areas near open woodlands such as the National Seashore. Kids especially love them and they are easy to catch.

Here is a blog post by a naturalist, Marcia Bonter, who spent time with Steve Rannels who studies the sounds of katydids as well as other crickets and grasshoppers.

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