Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Katydid Cotillion

Well, the Katydid Cotillion continues in Hays County.

We aren’t ones to interfere with a good time here in my neighborhood. And these bugs have been having a really good time for the last few months – all over the trees, the houses, etc. Good time. The party really gets going after dark. The mating sounds, in aggregate, drown out conversations, outdoor performances and television.

Last night a cool breeze blew in, so we tried to sleep with the windows open. We lasted about 20 minutes, then jumped up and slammed the windows shut. It’s that loud.

Last week, we sat at a party on a neighbor’s deck, shouting at each other over the racket. A neighbor who is a biologist suggested that the overpowering buzzing might be interfering with mating rituals of other night species – owls, chuck will’s widow, frogs.  Maybe their ears are better than ours, but the katydids are the only things we can hear at night. We agreed that they are louder than normal this year, and speculated it might be due to the mild winter.

These katydids are Central Texas leaf-katydids (Paracyrtophyllus robustus) (from These little jewels dine on oak foliage, and are usually heard but not seen - except in outbreak years. Guess what, folks:  It's an outbreak year in Hays (and a number of area counties). In outbreak years, they are seen everywhere. I am disturbed to learn that they sing from late May to mid-July - they are nowhere near finishing.

Click here to hear what we've been listening to.

Our critters have very long antenna and tall angular bodies that serve as excellent leaf camouflage. We see both bright green and reddish brown ones – many of each. One is hanging out in around my laundry room as we speak. 

My daughter and I collected a big jug full of them last week (this required lots of squealing, jumping and running – on my part), and then carried the lot down to the chicken yard for a chicken rodeo. Let me just say, chickens like katydids. Yum.

So settle in, neighbors. The katydids are here to party, and they will be carousing for at least another month.

Coneflowers backed by Mexican oregano (Lippia graveolens).
Favorite spot in the garden:

The purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) are blooming profusely right now. They are my daughter’s birthday flower, so we are always happy to see them blooming. I tried for several years to grow these, determined that they would live in my garden. After killing multiple plants, some finally survived, and have sowed offspring. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!


  1. Maybe it's time for some earphones until late July. Enjoyed learning more about those "green bugs."

  2. My son brought me a katydid and demonstrated how they make their sound. When I want to escape that sound there's a place on our property I can go. Walking along the trail my ears are ringing with the noise, and then I notice the sound decrease to near silence, a peculiar sensation. I look around and discover that I am surrounded entirely by cedars. I can once again hear the occasional songbird. I walk further and the drone builds until at full volume I see I am among oaks and elms again.

    1. That's cool - I don't think I have any quiet oases on my acreage.

  3. I would say yes, get some white noise for sleeping because I can't imagine closing the window at night. How about an electric fan in front of the window? Play birdsong on cd? Install a small noisy ocean?

    1. Believe me, it was an anomaly that we could even try to open the window. Texas summer nights are hot and muggy - my husband has short patience for those conditions!

  4. We hear katydids now but don't have the front porch invasion like we did in May. I'm wondering if the giant stick bugs on the porch(relatives to praying mantis I think) are the reason.