Bug That Looks Like A Leaf: Facts On Green Leaf Look Alike Katydids

Oluniyi Akande
Oct 27, 2023 By Oluniyi Akande
Originally Published on Nov 26, 2021
Green grasshopper camouflage with the leaves in the forest.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.0 Min

Also sometimes called long-horned grasshoppers and bush-crickets, katydids are insects that look like leaves.

They are a family of insects related to crickets and common grasshoppers. There are about 8,600 species of these bugs worldwide, with the greatest diversity found in tropical regions.

Katydids are insects that look like large leaves of green color and they are mostly found in grasslands, open woods, and forests. They camouflage remarkably to blend in with foliage, green plants, leaves, and bushes to avoid predation. Different species employ distinct defensive strategies against predators, such as secreting toxic chemicals and unpleasant odors.

They are primarily leaf eaters but they also feed on other plant parts, dead insects, insect eggs, or slow-moving insects like aphids. In the tropics, carnivore species of these bugs are quite prevalent.

If you enjoyed this article, why not also read some katydid facts and learn about farm animals here on Kidadl?

What are the bugs that look like leaves called?

Katydids are large, bright green-colored bush crickets that look like leaves and are mostly found in tropical regions. They are occasionally also found in shades of pink, yellow, and various other colors. They spend most of their time hidden in green leaves and foliage in order to gain protection by camouflage.

When katydids rub their forewings together, it creates a rasping song produced by stridulation. They also make a characteristic sound that resembles their name. Their call sounds as if someone is saying, 'Katy did! Katy didn't!' Often, males call this sound out together in unison to attract females.

Though different species have different calls, they are able to hear each other's songs. These songs serve different purposes, ranging from reproductive to territorial, aggressive or defensive calls.

Katydids are large insects, with the length of their body ranging from 0.4-2.4 in (1-6 cm). They have large hind legs, which are longer than their other pairs of legs. Their wings are positioned vertically over the body and look a little like a roof of a house. Katydids have extraordinarily long and thick threadlike antennae, which are upwardly curved, at 0.5-4 in (1.3-10 cm) in length.

Their antennae are covered in sensory receptors that help them navigate through the dark at night. Katydids also use their long antennae to touch and smell each other.

Female katydids lay eggs during winter. These eggs are deposited in soil, plant tissues, and tree barks. Only the eggs survive the winter, and the adult bugs sadly die. The eggs then hatch into nymphs in the following spring.

A nymph looks like an adult, except it doesn't have fully developed wings. These leaf-like insects go through incomplete metamorphosis and gradually, nymphs shed their exoskeletons in a process called molting. In their last molt, katydids get wings, become adults, and fly.

Are katydids harmful?

Katydids are generally harmless bugs that pose no threat to humans and pets.

They are gentle insects but at times, they are considered to be garden pests by people. They don't really cause any severe damage to plants and vegetables. In fact, they are more prey than predatory.

Katydids are pretty widespread and can be a common sight. Though their presence is in large numbers, there are certain species that are considered Endangered because of their position as prey in nature. These Endangered species are the tree winter katydid and the Lesotho meadow katydid.

Some factors that lead to a decrease in their numbers are falling prey to species like bats, habitat shifting, and altercation. Extreme temperatures, droughts, and floods are additional reasons katydids lose their lives in nature.

Do leaf bugs bite?

Katydids are species of insects that resemble grasshoppers and crickets.

These green leaf bugs are harmless and gentle. Only in rare cases does a larger type of katydid bite, in situations that might threaten it. The sting is not painful like that of a mosquito, and you are unlikely to be bitten unless you use your bare hands to handle them. Also, they are not venomous and so they are not really a threat to people.

How do I get rid of leaf foot bugs from my home?

Katydids are not likely to be harmful or cause any damage to plantations and gardens. However some people do want to remove them from their homes and gardens.

To get rid of them, a trusted adult can use Spinosad (a natural toxin for insects) and light traps. You can also remove any compost and tall grass from your garden to stop attracting these insects.

An adult long-legged grasshopper foraging in the bushes.

Did You Know...

Let's dive into some extremely interesting facts about katydids and learn of their unique characteristics!

You might be wondering, what is a katydid's lifespan? How long will they live in your garden? A katydid does not have a long life span; it only lives for about a year. After laying eggs, the female adult dies and only eggs survive the winter.

Upon hatching, the young nymph takes its sweet time to grow. It undergoes a process called molting, where it sheds its exoskeleton going through five stages. At the end of the last stage, these katydids get wings and can fly.

How do katydids reproduce? How many young katydids will hatch in your garden? When katydids reproduce, the male bugs send out mating signals to females through tremulations to make them aware of their location. A female responds to the call and chooses the male she wants to mate with. She chooses the perfect plant, chews holes in its stem, and lays her eggs there after placing her ovipositor in it. The female doesn't survive for long after the eggs are hatched, she dies shortly after. Her offspring then goes through metamorphosis and becomes an adult after some time.

Katydids are green insects that belong to the Tettigoniidae family. They relate more closely to crickets than grasshoppers. They belong to the class Insecta and the order Orthoptera.

They have ears on their legs and rub their wings together to make distinct sounds. These sounds help katydids to communicate without catching predators' attention. There is a presence of tympanic organs on their forelegs, these function as ears and enable them to detect any sounds made by their companions.

Different kinds of katydids at times have different features; some have long, flat, and broad wings that cover the entire body, some have short wings, and some are nearly wingless. Veins on their wings are often used to tell species apart.

They are mostly unable to fly and are very poor flyers when they try.

Katydids with pink color skin occur in every one in 500 individuals due to a condition called erythrism, which is caused due to recessive genes.

Though their exact number is not known, there are more than 8,600 species found globally (except in Antarctica). A huge number lives in the tropical regions of the Amazon Rainforest, though some also choose relatively cooler regions to live in. Heathlands in Australia and deserts in North America are also favorable katydid habitats.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you like our article about the bug that looks like a leaf, then why not take a look at our guide to amphibians vs. reptiles or the hinny vs. the mule?

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Written by Oluniyi Akande

Doctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

Oluniyi Akande picture

Oluniyi AkandeDoctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

With an accomplished background as a Veterinarian, SEO content writer, and public speaker, Oluniyi brings a wealth of skills and experience to his work. Holding a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan, he provides exceptional consulting services to pet owners, animal farms, and agricultural establishments. Oluniyi's impressive writing career spans over five years, during which he has produced over 5000 high-quality short- and long-form pieces of content. His versatility shines through as he tackles a diverse array of topics, including pets, real estate, sports, games, technology, landscaping, healthcare, cosmetics, personal loans, debt management, construction, and agriculture.

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