This Fork-Tailed Bush Katydid (Scudderia furcate) is climbing the blooms of a Dendrobium orchid. Primarily nocturnal in habit, it has become expert at camouflage by mimicking the shape and colors of the leaves upon which it feeds.
Insects in this family (Tettigoniidae) are commonly called katydids or bush crickets and more than 6,400 species are known. The Fork-Tailed Bush Katydid, is native to the United States and widespread in the eastern and southeastern regions. Adults are 14 - 75mm (0.55 - 2.95 inches) in length and have excellent eyesight.
Katydids have much longer antennae than grasshoppers, averaging 39mm (1.53 inches) and they only produce one generation annually since the eggs require a rest period.
The males have sound-producing organs located on the hind angles of their front wings. The males use this sound for courtship, which occurs late in the summer. The sound is produced by rubbing two parts of their bodies together, a process called stridulation. The males call 24-hours a day using 2-3 chirps followed by various periods of silence while waiting for a female to respond. The insect gets its name from the sound of the male’s call: “Katy-did”.
The tempo of the calls is governed by ambient temperature. For American katydids, the number of chirps in 15 seconds plus 37 will be close to the outside temperature in degrees Fahrenheit.