Al Crisalli Jr. took this photo of a Katydid (Microcentrum sp.) sitting in a black walnut tree. Also sometimes called bush crickets, though they are not true crickets, Katydids eat leaves that are typically higher up in trees, probably to avoid predators.
The most striking thing about them is their remarkable camouflage, which looks just like a leaf, including the venation (leaf veins) that make them cryptic and very difficult for enemies to spot. This ability to blend in with their leafy surrounding is the Katydid's best defense against birds and other predators.
Male Katydids make the most frequently heard ticking sounds at night from up in trees in the Tehachapi Mountains. As you would expect from their appearance, they stay in broadleaf trees rather than conifers — their body shape wouldn't provide much concealment among pine or fir needles.
Female Katydids lay their flat, pumpkin seed-looking eggs up in trees and glue them to twigs or bark, arranged like overlapping scales. These eggs overwinter, and then hatch out the following spring.
Katydids don't form colonies or large groups, and any given tree usually only has a few of them, so the amount of leaves that they eat is negligible and does their treetop home no harm. They are placid, typically slow-moving creatures that are seldom spotted. They can fly, though not very rapidly, and will occasionally fly to a new tree to find a mate or a different home.
NATURAL SIGHTINGS is a regular feature of the Tehachapi News edited by Jon Hammond which showcases photos of the natural beauty that enhances the quality of life in Tehachapi. If you have a good quality image of plants, animals, insects, trees, birds, weather phenomena, etc., taken in the Tehachapi area, you may submit it to the Tehachapi News for possible publication. Submissions can be dropped by the News office in the form of a print or CD, or sent by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.