Subfamily Pseudophyllinae
true katydids

Key to families and subfamilies of katydids.
Key to genera of true katydids (Pseudophyllinae).

True katydids are large, diverse, and arboreal. About 1000 species are known worldwide, and the subfamily is especially well represented in the New World tropics. The United States have but four species. Although similar, they are placed in three genera.

Identification: Length 33-50 mm. Pronotum with two transverse grooves. Fore wings broadly convex forming two shallow cups that together enclose a volume at least a third larger than the abdomen. Antennae longer and stiffer than in other katydids; antennal sockets with thick, raised rims mesally and ventrally.

Life cycle: One generation per year with the winter spent as eggs that the female thrusts into crevices of bark or into soft or fibrous plant tissue.

Remarks: Most true katydids occur mainly in the crowns of mature trees. Their songs, made at night, are loud and raucous, and their numbers are often great. In many areas they are both the katydids most frequently heard and the ones least frequently seen. True katydids feed on the foliage of the trees they inhabit.

True katydids have no stage that is adapted to long range dispersal. Their only flight is when, upon being jostled, they leap from their perch and flutter downward. If they reach the ground, they walk to and climb a nearby tree trunk.

The peculiarly cupped wings may have useful acoustic properties, and they undoubtedly make the insect appear more formidable than it is. When either the male or female is badgered, it squawks loudly and raises its forewings, putting a large volume of air--enclosed by tough forewings--between the katydid's vulnerable abdomen and its potential predator. The palatability of true katydids is uncertain. A Mexican species occurs in large numbers and calls during the day--and yet birds do not control its outbreaks.

References

Alexander RD. 1967. Singing insects. Chicago: Rand McNally. 86 p. (pp. 48-57, The true katydid) [975 KB]

Alexander RD. 1968. Arthropods. In: Sebeok TA, editor. Animal communication: techniques of study and results of research. Bloomington IN: Indiana Univ. Press. p 167-216. [Pterophylla camellifolia] [4188 KB]

Balsbaugh EU Jr. 1988. First record of the true katydid, Pterophylla camellifolia, new record, Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae: Pseudophyllinae, in North Dakota. Gt. Lakes Entomol. 21: 91-92.

Barrientos L, Hollander JD. 1994. Acoustic signals and taxonomy of Mexican Pterophylla (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae: Pseudophyllinae). J. Orthop. Res. 2: 35-40.

Beier M. 1962. Orthoptera, Tettigoniidae (Pseudophyllinae II). Das Tierreich 74: 1-396. (pp. 310-321, North American species) [1257 KB]

Blatchley WS. 1920. Orthoptera of northeastern America. Indianapolis, IN: Nature Publishing. 784 p. Pseudophyllinae (pp. 494-501) [695 KB]. (The introductory pages to Blatchley's book are accessible on SINA's home page.)

Hebard M. 1939. Studies in Orthoptera which occur in North America north of the Mexican boundary. X. New and critical notes on previously known Tettigoniidae. Trans. Am. Entomol. Soc. 65: 161-183, 3 pl. [Lea floridensis] [2021 KB]

Hebard M. 1941. The group Pterophyllae as found in the United States (Tettigoniidae:Pseudophyllinae). Trans. Am. Entomol. Soc. 67: 197-219, 2 pl. [1932 KB]

Hollander JD, Barrientos L. 1994. Acoustic and morphological differences between allopatric populations of Pterophylla beltrani (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae: Pseudophyllinae). J. Orthop. Res. 2: 29-34.

North RC, Shaw KC. 1979. Variation in distribution morphology and calling song of two populations of Pterophylla camellifolia (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae). Psyche 86: 363-374.

Rehn JAG, Hebard M. 1914. A new species of true katydid from western Texas. Entomol. News 25: 293-295. [Paracyrtophyllus excelsus] [213 KB]

Shaw KC. 1968. An analysis of the phonoresponse of males of the true katydid Pterophylla camellifolia (Fabricius) (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae). Behaviour 31: 203-260.

Shaw KC. 1975. Environmentally-induced modification of the chirp length of males of the true katydid Pterophylla camellifolia (F) (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae). Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 68: 245-250. [864 KB]

Shaw KC, Carlson OV. 1969. The true katydid, Pterophylla camellifolia (Fabricius) (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae) in Iowa: two populations which differ in behavior and morphology. Iowa State J. Sci. 44: 193-200. [521 KB]

Strohecker HF. 1939. Distributional and taxonomic notes on southeastern Dermaptera and Orthoptera and a new species of Cycloptilum (Gryllidae). Can. Entomol. 71: 169-175. [Lea floridensis]

Weissmann MJ, Leatherman DA. 1992. Range extension of the northern true katydid, Pterophylla camellifolia (F.) (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae: Pseudophyllinae) into eastern Colorado. J. Kans. Entomol. Soc. 65: 448-449.