Katydid!…Did she?

Olive – a Giant Long-Legged Katydid from Malaysia – was with us for only a few days, however, she left us with a precious gift; her eggs! Now, will those eggs hatch? We’re keeping our fingers crossed over here that we’ll soon be seeing some cute little katydid babies! This insect has quickly become my favorite among our exotic insects here at the Butterfly Center since it’s arrival just a couple of years ago. 


Bob and Me

Our first was Bob – he arrived in January of 2006. We had never ordered anything like him before, so I was excited to see what he would look like. Well, it was a probably the biggest bug I had ever seen! At first I was hesitant to try to touch him, but I held my hand out and he just climbed right up there, waving his extremely long antennae all around! I was shocked that an insect of his size (roughly 6 inches in length) would have such a friendly demeanor.

I started to handle him more and more, and eventually we included him in our Bugs on Wheels program. The kids absolutely flipped out when they saw him and were so excited to touch him! I was lucky enough to find him a mate, Momma, who produced 103 eggs! Raising these impressive insects was a very interesting experience.  Out of 103 eggs, 99 hatched, which was amazing! The nymphs (immature individuals) were very fragile and faced many challenges with molting (shedding of the exoskeleton). Out of 99 babies, 13 katydids made it to adulthood. Considering the factors affecting their growth, I felt pretty awesome about that. They were featured in the Frogs: A Chorus of Colors exhibit and 3 of them are still with me! They are officially retired old fogeys, but still alive. They are going on 2 years, which is remarkable for an insect!


Katydid Eggs

Since all we had was a few retirees sitting around, we needed some young ones for Bugs On Wheels and display in the Insect Zoo. That’s when we got Olive. She arrived along with 3 males: Milo, Otis, and Steve, but died 3 days after her arrival. So, it was a wonderful surprise when I discovered 33 eggs a couple of weeks ago! I am taking care of them and hoping that they will hatch soon, keep your fingers crossed. We want to always have this amazing animal around to share with people!



Now if, you’re wondering…What is a katydid? Katydids, also known as long-horned grasshopper or bush crickets,  belong to the order Orthoptera which also includes grasshoppers and crickets. These insects are all characterized by long muscular hind legs, 2 pairs of wings, and the ability to produce noise. 

Katydids look much like a grasshopper, but are more closely related to crickets because of the way they make all that noise. Katydids and crickets rub one wing against the other while grasshoppers rub one leg against one wing. All katydid are mimics, most have leathery green forewings to help them resemble green leaves, but some mimic dangerous arthropods such as spiders or ants.


Notice the long antennae

Katydids are sometime called Long-horned grasshoppers because of their long antennae, which can be twice the length of their body. These long antennae help the katydid at night by acting as touch receptors, allowing them to feel, as well as smell, the environment around them.

They are nocturnal animals, remaining motionless during the day to avoid their predators. They’re very often attracted to lights at night, so you may have seen one on your front porch.

These insects have what is called simple metamorphosis which is different from that of a butterfly. The baby insect hatches and looks just like the adult, only tiny. This baby is called a nymph, instead of a larva. After several molts, the insect reaches it’s full size and if wings are present, they will be fully developed. The female lays eggs, one at a time, in several different substrates, including soil, plants stems, or tree bark. They are usually cleverly disguised as seeds to throw off potential predators. 

Katydid on a rose

Creative Commons License photo credit: wolfpix
 A common Texas Katydid

There are over 6,000 described species of katydid that live all over the world, with half of them live in the Amazon rainforest. Katydids are very common in Texas and are usually a couple of inches long. Our Malaysian Katydids are arguably the largest Orthopteran species in the world!

It is such an amazing insect, you should come and see Otis sometime on display in the Entomology Hall. Milo is the one we have now for Bugs on Wheels. He, like the others, is so wonderfully calm as hundreds of children pet him several times a week. This is truly a spectacular creature!

So, if you find some time, say a little prayer for Olive’s eggs!

160 thoughts on “Katydid!…Did she?

  1. Hi Erin, I also wish i had known about your site earlier. I have recenty moved to Malaysia and now have a male and female Giant Malay Katydid. I
    am trying to get them to lay. In your article you don’t say what this species lay their eggs in – is it in the soil, in rotten wood or in plant stems. Also how long do they take to hatch? Great to find someone who has had success! Congratulations.

  2. Hi Erin, I also wish i had known about your site earlier. I have recenty moved to Malaysia and now have a male and female Giant Malay Katydid. I

    am trying to get them to lay. In your article you don’t say what this species lay their eggs in – is it in the soil, in rotten wood or in plant stems. Also how long do they take to hatch? Great to find someone who has had success! Congratulations.

  3. Hi David! From my experience, the females have preferred to lay their eggs in very soft, rotten wood. If none of that is present, they will lay their eggs in any number of places – the soil along with other nooks and crannies in their habitat. The eggs will take anywhere from 2-4 months to hatch. The eggs start out looking very slender, but if they are viable, as they get closer to hatching they will grow and swell. Right before they hatch, the eggs will look a lot fatter! If they show no signs of growth after a few months, that probably means they will not hatch. I am having some eggs hatch right now as a matter of fact! I love raising this species! Are you friends with Yen Saw? He e-mailed me this same question about a friend who lives in malaysia. Good luck!

  4. Hi! My daughter found some Katydid eggs today and we are wondering if we could care for them and watch them hatch and grow with her class, or if we should just let nature do its thing. If we could care for them, what’s the best way? Thanks so much!!

  5. Wow So cool, I found a katydid too its weird to have him around my house i think it had a baby worm I really don’t know for some reason I put him in a bottle with alluminion I put holes so it wont die and its not moving its just there doing nothing like a rock lol please write back thank you

  6. Hi Erin. A few weeks ago, my stepdad found and caught a Katydid in our yard. I have been feeding it for roughly 3 weeks, it is living happily in a plastic octagonal aquarium, along with pine needles and a twig that my daughter put in. Imagine my surprise when today my littl e girl, whos 6, asked me what the seed looking things were on the twig… and asked if they were eggs… I looked online and came across this site. Indeed they are eggs! I live in the high desert in california and I really think that us having our bug and babies would make a great science fair project. Any info you can give on this subject would be wonderful.

  7. We found our little girl wandering the property in New Mexico!

    Brought her in, made a little home out of a Habitrail OVO (was previously used as our hamster’s travel cage) and have been feeding her regularly, occasionally handling her, etc. It’s been maybe 26 days, and yesterday she started laying eggs on the sticks in her home (basically coating the whole surfaces with them.)

    Now, while I’ve been finding lots of information on how long the eggs hatch, etc. There’s one thing I’m wondering…how long do the eggs gestate in the Katydid before she lays them? And if a katydid isn’t preggers, would she still lay her eggs out of habit? Just wondering as she’s the first we’ve seen in these areas for the seven years we’ve lived here.

  8. Hello Ayaa! Sorry I’ve taken awhile to write back! I can’t tell you how long the eggs are inside the female’s body before they are fertilized. They typically begin producing eggs when they are sexually mature and start laying them once she mates. This time frame probably varies from species to species and to my knowledge, such specific information is not readily available! I can tell you that the eggs don’t start developing (gestating) until they are laid, because they are typically fertilized as they are laid. Female insects will sometimes, but not always, lay eggs that are unfertilized out of instinct. The only real way to tell if the eggs have been fertilized, though, is if they hatch! Katydid eggs typically take from 2 to 4 months to hatch, depending on conditions.

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