Katydids are a family of insects related to grasshoppers and crickets. They’re also called bush crickets or long-horned grasshoppers in some regions. There are more than 6,000 types of katydids, and they’re found on every continent except for Antarctica. About a third of them live in the Amazon Rainforest. About 255 types of katydids live in North America.
Most types of katydids are green and have markings to help them blend in with leaves and other foliage. Like crickets and grasshoppers, they have long back legs to help them jump. They can rub their front wings together to make a loud ka-ty-did song that gives them their name.
Katydids are usually considered gentle insects that aren’t harmful to humans. Some people consider them garden pests; however, they usually don’t cause serious damage to your plants or vegetables.
Katydids are usually gentle, and many people even keep them as pets. In rare cases, larger types of katydid may pinch or bite if they feel threatened. Their bite is unlikely to break your skin and likely won’t be any more painful than a mosquito bite. You’re very unlikely to get bitten unless you’re handling them with your bare hands.
What to do if you’ve been bitten
It’s extremely unlikely that the bite will need medical attention. You can wash the area with soap and water and apply a cold compress if you have pain or swelling.
Katydids aren’t known to be dangerous to humans or other pets. They may damage young plants but generally won’t cause serious damage to your garden. Some types of katydid, mostly in tropical regions, eat smaller insects and may help deter other critters from invading your garden.
Katydids primarily eat leaves and grass. Along with crickets and grasshoppers, they may be attracted to the plants in your garden or any tall grass on your property. Katydids are nocturnal and are also attracted to bright lights at night.
The following plants are known to be particularly appealing for katydids:
- flax lilies
One type of katydid found widely across North America, the broad-winged katydid, likes to eat the leaves of citrus trees and may be a pest for people with orchards.
Katydids may nibble on your plants and trees, and some people consider them garden pests. Most types of katydids are unlikely to cause serious damage to your garden, but there are several ways you can repel them.
Using spinosad, or a natural substance made by soil bacterium, on katydid nymphs (young) may help reduce the number of katydids around your property. Spinosad causes nervous system excitement in insects that eventually leads to paralysis and death.
Spinosad has a very low risk of toxicity for humans and other mammals. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has designated spinosad as a reduced risk pesticide that poses few risks to humans compared to conventional pesticides. It’s currently FDA-approved for controlling head lice.
Like many other nocturnal insects, katydids are attracted to bright lights. Insect light traps come in several variations. Some types of lanterns zap insects with electricity and other trap them so they can be released elsewhere.
Some plants produce chemicals that are known to repel insects. For example, chrysanthemums produce a chemical called pyrethrin that’s toxic to insects. When insets eat pyrethrin, it disrupts their nervous system and can lead to paralysis.
Other plants that are often said to repel insects include lavender, cilantro, and garlic.
Remove compost and tall grass
To reduce the number of katydids around your home, you can try to eliminate places where katydids like to live. Mowing any tall grass around your property may discourage them from visiting. You may also want to either get rid of any compost piles you have around your property or move them farther from your home.
You can make a homemade insecticide by mixing Tabasco sauce, soap, garlic, and water. You can try mixing about 2 tablespoons of Tabasco sauce with four drops of soap, a clove of garlic, and 32 fluid ounces of water.
Katydids are found on every continent in the world except for Antarctica. Some types of katydids may nip your hand if you pick them up. The nip likely won’t break the skin and will likely be less painful than a mosquito bite.