Monday, December 9, 2013

Damu the Greater Angle-Winged Katydid!

A few months ago, I looked up at the dorm room wall and there was a katydid perched there!  I captured him and put him in a container for a week!  I learned a little bit about katydids, so put your listening ears on!
Damu in his container.  "Damu" means "blood" in Swahili, and for good reason.  This little insect was a bloodthirsty demon, I tell you what.  Which is a joke because it eats leaves.  Ha.
I figured out that Damu was probably a greater angle-winged katydid (Microcentrum rhombifolium), native to the southwestern and eastern United States.  The adults are only around from between July and October, except in Florida, where the higher year round temperatures allow the species to live year round.

The greater angle-wing is pretty large as insects go (especially here in Colorado), and looks quite cool!  As you can probably tell from the picture below, the katydid has evolved to superbly mimic its surroundings: i.e., the leaves of trees!  This makes the katydid one of my Top Ten Favorite Camouflagers, one of four insects to make the cut!

Top Ten Favorite Camouflagers
By Zack Neher

1.  Octopus
2.  Walking Leaves
3.  Leafy Sea Dragon
4.  Katydid
5.  Ghost Mantis
6.  Harry Potter Under the Invisiblity Cloak
7.  Arctic Fox
8.  Walking Stick
9.  Optimus Prime
10.  Ptarmigan
11.  Leaf-Tailed Gecko

If you live in much of the United States (refer to the map below), you can probably see the greater angle-winged katydid!  Or, at least, hear it!  I know for me personally, once I knew what I was listening to, I heard them ALL the time!  Click the link to hear a sound clip of the male making its distinctive clicking sound!  (Damu made these sounds, which is why I am almost positive of him being a male).

Male Katydid Clicking Sounds

Damu is sadly no longer with us: I kept him for about a week, and decided to let him go.  He spent a lot of time making his clicking sounds (which are surprisingly loud for a critter of his size), especially at night when we were trying to sleep.  It got quite annoying, and I wanted him to be free, so I released him from his prison.  Plus he pooped WAY more than an insect of his size should.

I caught another katydid later on, this time a female.  You could tell that Damu Mbili (Damu II in Swahili) was a female because she never clicked and had an ovipositor, an organ possessed by some animals to aid in egg laying.  She died in the middle of October, right around when you would expect these katydids to pass away, though I did hear male katydids clicking away intermittently through the 27th of October.  Here are a few pictures.
Check back soon for our next post, where we look at some insects that I saw at my recent visit to the San Diego Zoo, many of which are expert camouflagers!

Works Referenced:

Bug Eric. (accessed November 28, 2013)

"Greater Angle-Wing Katydid." (accessed November 28, 2013).

"Microcentrum rhombifolium Greater Anglewing Katydid." EOL Encyclopedia of Life. (accessed November 28, 2013).

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