Thursday, May 29, 2008

The four-legged Katydid

The katydid, which has been living on the Correa for at least a month, is not the most dynamic of insects, but its almost motionless disposition does allow for close photographic scrutiny. As mentioned below, in the daytime it stands, head downwards, on a leaf; in the evenings this mostly nocturnal species ventures 7cm to the top of the Correa. I know it is capable of fast movement because during the sudden onset of torrential rain and hail last weekend it moved quickly to underneath the leaf.

Every day I check its whereabouts and because it is so well camouflaged this can take a while. A few weeks ago I thought I’d lost my little friend, but it had moved from its hitherto favourite resting spot to a lower leaf.

Today I thought the worst had happened but eventually, late in the afternoon, I found her (him) well hidden in the middle of the bush.

Something traumatic occurred last night and the katydid no longer has six legs.

One of the defense strategies of orthopterans (grasshoppers and crickets) is their ability to sacrifice a limb that's grasped by a predator by contracting a special muscle at the base of the limb. A small diaphram immediately closes the wound to prevent infection or blood loss.

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