We had a visitor the other day – a katydid in the kitchen. It was hanging out near the sink where we have a potted green onion plant. It’s a beautiful and elegant creature with long thin legs, even longer and thinner antennae (that can be 2-3 times the length of the insect’s body!), and a body that looks exactly like a leaf. Nature’s good like that – if this katydid hadn’t been in my kitchen, it would have been perfectly camouflaged in a tree.
Of course our visitor prompted a few questions on my part. So, yes, research. Did you know that there are more than 6,400 different species of katydids, living on every continent except Antarctica in a variety of habitats? And while most are green like my visitor, they come in many different colors, shapes, and patterns to match their environment. They are also nocturnal, which may explain why our visitor disappeared late morning. Either that or it was tired of being watched.
I had considered carefully taking the katydid outside since that’s where it belongs. But that brought up the question, what do katydids do in the winter? Well, in Colorado and places with a similar climate, they die (in warmer climates they may live a couple of years). Around here, females lay and bury their eggs in soil, bark, or plant stems in late summer or early fall. The adults die in the first freeze and the eggs survive the winter. In the spring they hatch as nymphs. At that point they look like mini-adults, except they don’t yet have wings. As they grow they shed their exoskeletons several times, which is known as an incomplete metamorphosis. During the last molt they get their wings and are full fledged adults.
So did I take the katydid outside? No. I decided to let it live out its days in relative warmth. Who knows, it may even survive the winter.