Look in the Leaves for Katydids

April 05, 2013
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Leaf-mimic katydids are one of the marvelous designs of nature that IE guests typically observe during nocturnal walks on Amazon rainforest trails. These insects, which are comprised of a number of at least 13 different genera and over 100 species, have been described from Central and South America.

These insects are incredibly camouflaged as they rest on foliage by day…looking just like a leaf.  Some mimic green leaves, while others mimic dead leaves and many actually will have spots on them like lichen or even notches in their wings that make them look like they’ve been chewed upon by an insect. 

Overall, leaf-mimic katydids are basically nocturnal but with flashlight in hand, visitors often find these wonderfully adapted creatures as they perch on leaves or tree limbs, often very low to the ground. Katydids are also very vocal insects, and many of the loud choruses heard at night along the Amazon and its tributaries are the calls of numerous species of male katydids. There are just a couple of species where the females call as well but this is certainly an exception.

Leaf-mimic katydids feed on leaves and many have fairly sharp mandibles adapted for chewing the edges of fairly thick or dense leaves.  Although the leaf mimic katydids are quite harmless, there is one cone-headed katydid — called a “Thorny Devil” — with massive mandibles capable of biting and breaking the skin of hands that may be inclined to pick one up. 
 

 

Naturalist Greg Greer is a favorite among IE travelers, and has gained a reputation for his friendliness and good humor, along with his incomparable knowledge of natural history, photos and articles have been widely published in books and magazines, including Georgia Outdoor News, Bird Watcher’s Digest, Alabama Outdoor News, Riversedge and Southern Wildlife.