Tuesday, 5 April 2011

An unusual Katydid

Meet Phyllophorella queenslandica Rentz, Su, and Ueshima, the Queensland Small Hooded Katydid. It was only recently described (see Rentz et al., 2009). It is a member of the subfamily Phyllophorinae of the large katydid family, the Tettigoniidae.

Hooded Katydids appear to be most closely related to Bush Katydids of the subfamily Phaneropterinae. They are plant feeders just like most of the Bush Katydids.
Hooded katydids are aptly named. The hoodlike thorax, called the pronotum, is variously developed amongst all the species.
The Phyllophorinae are distributed in the Old World tropical rainforests with species known from the Indo-Malaysian or East Indian region. Twelve genera comprise the group. Some species are among the largest of katydids. The one above is a very large New Guinean representative of the genus Sasima.

Australia has two known phyllophorinae species, P. queenslandica and Siliquofera grandis, the latter a katydid of gigantic size. This giant is known from New Guinea as well as Iron Range in north Queensland. P. queenslandica is known from a few localities from Bamaga in the far north, south to Kuranda along the east coast.

The Phyllophorinae is odd in that males do not possess the usual katydid feature of a stridulatory file and scraper on the left forewing. This is the structure that produces the Calling Song distinctive of each species and important in aiding females to find their mates. How males and females get together in this group is yet to be studied.
However, they do produce a sound. When disturbed, nymphs and adults alike produce a rasping sound by rubbing a series of parallel transverse ridges on the sternum against a series of tubercles on the hind coxae. (See below)
Rentz, D. C. F., Su, Y. N., Ueshima, N. 2009. Studies in Australian Tettigoniidae: The Phyllophorinae (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae; Phyllophorinae). Zootaxa, 2075: 55-68.

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