The New Student's Reference Work/Katydid
Ka'tydid', familiar insect, classed as a long-horned grasshopper. It is a great singer, known more by its song of "Katy did, Katy didn't; she did, she didn't" than by sight. These insects are difficult to see on account of their color, which matches that of the leaves of the trees and bushes on which they live. They sing by night, sing all night, do not come to the fore until midsummer or later. It is a popular fancy that the song of the first katydid means six weeks to frost, – the prediction being often fulfilled. The males are the music makers, and call to their mates with their music. By rubbing the fore-wings little membranes are made to vibrate, a sound produced that carries sometimes a quarter of a mile and seems like human speech. The song of the snowy tree-cricket is often mistaken for that of the katydid in sections of the country where the latter does not live. Katydids are of a lovely pale-green color; the wing-covers delicate, not stiff like a grasshopper; the hind-legs longer and more delicate. It flies prettily, is a good jumper, and walks more than does the grasshopper. The broad-winged katydid has wings that bulge on each side, giving the insect an appearance of plumpness. The eggs are laid in regular rows on leaves and branches, The angular-winged katydid is common in our southern states. Early in the autumn the eggs are laid, deposited in a curious, overlapping double row on twigs, edges of leaves, sometimes on the edge of a fence-board, gummed securely in their place. They do not hatch until spring; then the egg splits along the top edge and the young katydid cornea forth, at first very pale in color. In the south there are two broods a year, in the north but one. The eggs are often stung by a curious chalcidid parasite. Katydids do but little harm to vegetation, are looked upon friendlywise. Oliver Wendell Holmes speaks thus to the katydid:
- "I love to hear thine earnest voice,
- Wherever thou art hid,
- Thou testy little dogmatist,
- Thou pretty katydid!
- Thou mindest me of gentlefolks–
- Old gentlefolks are they–
- Thou say'st an undisputed thing
- In such a solemn way."