The rare pink katydid insect

By in Animals

Pink katydid insect

A bright pink katydid is not so well hidden amongst the green foliage. Photo by flickr

I am always in search for brightly and special coloured animals, especially pink animals. I was therefore stunned to find there exist brightly coloured pink insects. Yes, pink insects! In the family of katydids which consists of more than 6400 species, a rare colour morph exists which is bubblegum pink!

Normally katydids are green and somewhat leaf-shaped, allowing them to blend in nicely with the foliage. They are so well camouflaged that they are very hard to see. However, their song, by which it got its name, makes them easy to recognize: “Katy did, Katy did, Katy didn’t”. As most insects, they ‘sing’ by running one wing along the teeth at the bottom of the other wing, a method called stridulation.

Listen to its song here and here.

Pink katydid

This katydid has such an amazing pink colour!

So why would a normally green insect be pink?

The pink coloration of the katydids is the result of a condition called erythrism, an unusual reddish pigmentation, and is similar to albinism where the condition is due to recessive genes. (mutation? recessive genes? Learn more about it here.) The same apparently is true for pink katydids, however still very little scientific data exists on this beautiful variant.

Pink insect katydid

This katydid has such a bright pink colour, it is unfortunately an easy prey for predators! Photo by Thomas Morse.

Although most people would probably say a pink insect looks nicer than a green one, it gives it a real disadvantage in its natural habitat of green plants and trees. It is just too easy for a predator to detect. However, the pink insects have one safe haven: pink and red flowers. So if it manages to find those before being spotted by a hungry predator, it might live another day to sing its characteristic song: “katy did katy did”.

Update: I recently received an email from a father and his son who found a bright red katydid in the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area. I had never heard of a completely red katydid before, but I expect that the reddish pigmentation resulting from the erythrism is even stronger in the individuals they found. The Audubon Insectarium New Orleans now keeps a couple specimen for further study. Thanks to Shawn Philips for bringing this up!

Red katydid

A red katydid. Photo by Shawn Philips

  • Sanneke

    Love it! It would sure fit in to my interior. Is the ‘katy-did’ noise in a high pitch voice? Or is it more the low cricket like sound?

    • Jolle Jolles

      It sure has a beautiful colour! It sounds similar to the sound of a cricket. Listen to it here.

  • Comment1

    Incredible! I can’t believe I’ve never ever heard of this.

  • L. James

    Very Cool.! I found a green katydid on the roof of my car last night. I haven’t seen one in the Chicago area, where I live, since I was a kid. Probably 20 years ago. There was condensation on my car because of it being warm during the day. The katydid was rubbing its legs on the drops of moisture then rubbing them against its mouth. I guess that’s how it was getting a drink of water. I had a cup holder in my car, so I gently coaxed it into the cup, then relocated it to a nearby maple tree, where it sat in the same spot for several minutes while I watched to see what it would do. It basically just sat there, so I left. The next morning it was gone, so I don’t know what happened to it. I was trying to find out what they eat. I always thought that the ate other insects, but I don’t know. We had an early, warm spring here so I was thinking that they might be more prolific this year on account of an abundance of food. Any thoughts on that idea?

    • Jolle Jolles

      Hi James, thanks for your interesting comment! Katydids mainly eat leaves and parts of vegetation. Although they can sometimes eat dead insects I don’t think they ever eat alive insects. An abundance might have to do with a decrease of predators of katydids at the time katydids start to thrive. It might still have to do due to a warmer spring with katydids arising earlier than most of their predators for example. Take care!

  • Bryson

    What are some of the pink katydids adaptations that help in its enviroment.

  • Amy Kay Vega

    this is amy Vega mom I had a baby pink bug crawling on my phone today and it was so beautiful I went to flick it off my phone and I accidentally killed it and I felt so bad because I didn’t know what it was and it was so beautiful I had to try to find out what it was so I started to read about it just letting you know that I have seen 1 Anderson Indiana

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