Monday, July 30, 2012


While checking the milkweed plants in the side yard at Monarch Waystation No. 613 in NW Ohio, I actually took hold of this leaf and examined the underside for Monarch eggs, unaware of the large katydid on the leaf surface, only 1/4-inch from my fingers!

It wasn't until I released the leaf that I noticed this katydid on about nature's camouflage! Katydids rely quite well on their excellent camouflage for protection. I was amazed at how the markings resemble the veins in the milkweed leaf. These rarely seen but often heard at night insects have incomplete metamorphosis. The nymph that hatches from an egg looks a lot like an adult, except that it doesn't have wings. As they grow, katydids shed their exoskeletons (molt) and, in their last molt, they get wings and become adults. After that they stop growing and don't molt any more.

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Katydids are truly the masters of disguise. This creature fooled me as I checked my milkweeds for Monarch eggs. I'll wager it fooled countless birds, spiders, snakes, and toads that also mistook it for a leaf. Is that why it chose to remain still when my fingers were almost touching it? Why didn't it fly or jump away? Is it aware of how deft it is at fooling its predators...and me?

What a fascinating creature, a disguise genious that's mostly nocturnal, a good jumper, has ears on its legs, and flies. It also lulls me to sleep at night with its mysterious musical song. A backyard entomologist I am, but I assume this is a false katydid (Amblycorypha oblongifolia), different from the true katydid (Pseudophyllinae). North America has 8 types of katydids, including the true, false, meadow, coneheaded, shield-backed, hump-winged grigs, quiet-calling and stick katydids. After discovering this deftly-camouflaged visitor to my Monarch Waystation No. 613 in NW Ohio, I ran into the house and retrieved my camera. It was still there upon return, and I'm glad I got this photo to share.

Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S believes urban sprawl can be offset by creating wildlife-friendly spaces in America's 25,000,000 lawns, one yard at a time! Click HERE to learn why. A portion of Ad revenues (10%) will be donated to Monarch Watch, earmarked for their Monarch Waystation program. Do you have a wildlife-friendly space? Please share it! Contact us on the secure Bpath Mail Form.