Turning Frogs into Katydids

A Mormon cricket in a meadow in Grand Teton National Park

My visit to the Tetons in 2011 got off to a slow start. I hadn’t seen much wildlife and while the scenery was beautiful as always, the light and weather weren’t cooperating. In the mood to try something new, I hiked a trail I hadn’t been on before, the Two Ocean Lake Trail. In the meadows I was startled multiple times by creatures moving in the grass that reminded me in size and mass of frogs, but they looked like giant grasshoppers. I had no idea such things even existed, not having seen them before (or since), but they were Mormon crickets. They’re actually katydids, not crickets, and lack the ability to fly.

A More Worrisome Sign

A fork-tailed bush katydid sits on a gladiolus blossom

We’ve had two katydids this year, both of which are hanging around the side of the house where there are a handful of rose bushes and a few stray gladiolus (at least I think that’s what they are). This one prefers the gladiolus and is usually close enough to photograph, while the other prefers a particular rose bush where it is often nearly out of sight and too far away for pictures.

I’ve named them Katydid and Katydidn’t.

Perhaps an even more worrisome sign than saving the lives of your garden pests is giving them nicknames.

A Sign

A fork-tailed bush katydid eats the stem of a gladiolus

I’ve adopted a live-and-let-live policy towards the katydids in our yard. Unlike the swarms of little aphids, there aren’t very many of them and they don’t do much damage, so I tolerate a few chewed up plants in exchange for a few pictures. It’s actually more than a live-and-let-live policy, as when I trim the roses I try to make sure that any katydids on the cut stems make it safely back to the main plant before the stems go in the yard waste bin. The fact that I go to any effort to save the lives of some of my garden pests is probably a sign that I need to see a therapist.

This one preferred the gladiolus over the roses, you can see the holes in the stem it gouged out. The flowers were already spent so it wasn’t hurting anything. I’d usually leave the spent flowers until I was sure they weren’t eating them anymore.