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Thursday, May 22, 2003

ANIMAL TRACKER

Katydid


* Japanese name: Sesuji tsuyumushi
* Scientific name: Ducetia japonica
* Description: Katydids (also known as bush crickets) belong to a family of grasshoppers and crickets called the Tettigoniidae. The insects in this family have very long antennae, like threads, sometimes two or three times the length of the body, which in this species is about 35 mm.
* Where to find them: In bushes and scrubby grassland from Honshu to Kyushu. Katydids are more nocturnal than crickets and grasshoppers. They become active in the afternoon and stay up long into the night.
* Food: Leaves and stems. Some katydids are carnivorous, but this species is vegetarian and has mouthparts for chewing.
* Special features: Insects in the order Orthoptera are famous for the sounds they produce to communicate. Grasshoppers and locusts call by scraping a comb of pegs on their hind legs against the edges of their forewings. Crickets and katydids do it by rubbing their wings together. Like males of many nocturnal species, the males of Ducetia japonica sing to unseen females and put a lot of energy into their calls. But most of the sounds are high in the ultrasonic range, outside the range of our hearing. Like other orthopterans, katydids have a tympanum (ear) on each foreleg, just below the "knee."
The insect is green and looks remarkably like a leaf, which is not surprising, since they live in vegetation and want to avoid being eaten by birds and mice. Males have a pair of claspers at the end of the abdomen called cerci, which they use to hold onto the female during mating. Females have a huge curved ovipositor (egg-layer) on their abdomens. Katydids undergo gradual metamorphosis, changing from wingless nymphs to winged adults.

Orthopterans: Any of a large order of mostly plant-eating insects that have chewing mouthparts and undergo metamorphosis. Tympanum: A drumlike membrane in certain insects that vibrates, allowing them to hear.



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