Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Close Encounters with the Katydid Kind

Today at work, during our morning tea time, I spotted something in the hall which at first glance I somehow thought was a giant green spider, but which on a second look turned out to be a fairly normal-sized katydid.

This katydid, in fact. Let's call her “Katy” for simplicity. That's my arm, for scale.

I've never seen a katydid here in Hawaii before, so I had to check with my co-workers that it wasn't some invasive species that should be killed on sight. Once I'd ascertained that it was not, I undertook to return “Katy” to the outdoors. I don't really have any experience with katydids; I only really know what to expect from their relatives, grasshoppers and crickets. I wasn't sure if she would prove flighty and try to jump away, so I very carefully and slowly put one hand in front and one hand behind her to see if I could carry her out slowly without the entire affair devolving into me frantically trying to catch her as she hopped equally frantically away.

To my surprise, she took a calculating look at my approaching hand and calmly and sedately climbed aboard with basically no encouragement on my part. Katydids are herbivorous and harmless to humans, so while she was on my hand and so obligingly demure I took the chance to study her up close as I took her back through the break room (and my coworkers there) on my way outside.

Katy seemed to be about as interested in me as I was in her, returning my curious stare with a frank and thoughtful one. She looked as if she were mulling something over as her miniature mouth parts and antennae slowly waved to and fro. Thus I was caught completely unprepared when she suddenly leaped directly at my face!

I'm pretty sure I let out a startled squawk – I know I jumped, to the great amusement of my coworkers I'm sure. My eyes had reflexively slammed shut due to, y'know, something jumping at my face, and as I carefully pried them open again it was to find Katy calmly hanging out on my nose.

Now, if you read this blog you're probably aware that I don't take pictures of myself lightly or often, but I couldn't pass up the golden opportunity to see what I looked like with a katydid on my nose. To my great sorrow, while I was pulling out my camera Katy decided she didn't like my nose after all and jumped down onto my arm, where I had to be content with the picture above. After a few more pictures (most of poor quality sadly) I took her outside and let her off on one of bushes near the door.

Katy, back in her natural habitat.
All in all, it was fun. It's not everyday you get startled half to death at an office job by the insect equivalent of a cow, after all. A hui hou!


  1. According to Wikipedia these critters are everywhere but Antarctica. You may not have seen them because they are nocturnal. Thank you for showing such kindness to one of our fellow creatures. :)

  2. Oh interesting. I wonder why she was up and about during the day?

    1. She probably came in on someone's clothing. Are there people in your building at night? Or maybe she was just having a bad day. :)

    2. There's usually a telescope operator controlling UKIRT overnight from the control room downstairs, so maybe!


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