Look what Katydid to Basil

They’re rather odd-looking insects with strangely long hind legs. They look like they could catapult into the next county. I’ve described them as looking like grasshoppers that got caught in a door (because of their flattened bodies).

Katydid fits the description above. Click image for larger view.

Katydids are common visitors to Texas landscapes and gardens, but many gardeners are unfamiliar with them. That’s partly because they’re usually solitary or present in very small populations and partly because they’re usually well camouflaged to look like the leaves on which they’re resting and feeding.

I came across one particularly eager eater on my basil plant last Friday. That plant was sitting in a flat on my driveway along with a couple of coleus plants and several succulents, all waiting for much-needed repotting.

Basil leaves have been ravaged by one lone katydid.

I noticed something had been chewing holes in its leaves so I reached down and pulled up the pot. That’s when I spotted the katydid proudly admiring its work. I set the plant down and reached for my camera, determined to share this summertime pest with you.

Continued Below

Katydids love tropical hibiscus. I’ve learned years ago to keep my eye on them as I water every day or two in the summer. Sooner or later a katydid will take up residence and start chewing on their leaves and flowers.

Since I don’t recall ever finding more than one katydid at a time, I’ve never been able to justify mixing up a spray tank to treat them. They don’t stink, sting or bite, so I just swiftly grab them and dispatch them against the driveway. Works every time. (This little guy in my photo got a reprieve. I took him out into the woods and thumped him onto some trees. I’m just an old softy.)

So, I’ve now told you more than I know about katydids. But if you still want to learn more about sensory receptors and ovipositors, this information from the University of Wisconsin Extension Horticulture folks will cover it all.

Grab your shades, and prepare for one hip katydid!
And for the coolest dancing katydid ever, please click into this absolutely great YouTube video. Have your sound turned on, and if possible, watch it on a computer. I love this thing!

Posted by Neil Sperry
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