For katydids, green is the seasons’ surviving color

According to the latest print edition of National Geographic, colorful katydids are having a tough time. While Kermit the Frog may have believed it wasn’t easy being green, any katydid that is not green is in for some serious trouble.

Katydids are born with a range of color, but usually only the green ones survive to become adults. Photo from National Geographic.

Katydids are born with a range of color, but usually only the green ones survive to become adults. Photo from National Geographic.

These insects, first discovered in the 1770s in North America and the tropics, have changed through evolution, mutations or a mixture of both. While the species was known to be strictly green – good for hiding from predators in the forest – a fraction were discovered in brighter and more noticeable colors of the rainbow, like pink, orange and yellow. The pink ones were so rare, they weren’t even discovered until 1887, almost 100 years after its green siblings were found.

Scientists at the Osaka Prefecture University said it is probably a genetics change and not an environmental factor.

At the New Orleans’ Audubon Insectarium, researchers discovered katydids were born with a wide spectrum of colors. The reason why pink, orange and yellow ones are so rare is because they usually do not survive long after they are born. They are easy targets for predators.

The conclusion of the study was that katydids’ dominant trait for color is pink. However, those with the recessive gene, which keeps them green from birth, survive longer because of their color.

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3 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Hi Stephanie, I’m a blogger with Scientific American and I’m really interested in the Nat Geo katydids study, but I can’t seem to locate it! Could you tell me which edition is was in?


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