We recently published descriptions of new genera and species of mostly rainforest katydids. Some are familiar to residents in the area because they see them around their lights at night and others are much less common. All are nocturnal, hiding by day and emerging after dark to feed and seek mates.
Note the extraordinary adaptations of this katydid that give the appearance of a bit of lichen on a branch. The expanded spines are not just for decoration or defense. They probably also serve to "cloud" the fact that this is an insect that would be perfectly edible to a bird or lizard. Aside form the few specimens that have been found by interested naturalists, we have no idea where this creature spends its time. So that may explain its rarity. It may live high in the lichen-covered trees of its habitat. It may also be just "rare".
But I digress. What are its apparent relationships.
When the various morphological diagnostic characters are considered, such as the shape of the wing, which is concealed underneath the shield-like thorax, the shape of the male and female genitalic structures (yes, we look a the private parts!) it is apparent that these three genera form a distinct unit. We decided to formally recognise this by naming the tribe Armadillagraeciini Rentz, Su Ueshima.
All known specimens of I. iterika are short-winged and flightless and are nocturnal. They, like many other agraeciines, are predaceous. Perhaps, they are better termed as opportunists. They will feed on a variety of foods depending on what is available.They can be observed eating on flowers, fruits or other insects. The ovipositor is suited to laying the cylindrical eggs in bark cracks. There is some variation in the colour of individuals. Most are quite dark olive.
I. iterika is known from specimens from Davies Creek, Kuranda, Mt Lewis, Polly Creek, nr Innisfail, Cape Tribulation and Mt Finnigan near Cooktown, Qld.
Two species are presently known. E. munggarifrons Rentz, Su, Ueshima has a tongue-twister of a name. It is derived from a combination of an aboriginal and Latin word referring to the distinctive frontal bits of the insect. The other is E. windsorana Rentz, Su, Ueshima, from the Mt Windsor Tableland, Qld.
convergence" but further study may reveal close relationship and that the two should be combined into a single genus.
This is M. milyali Rentz, Su, Ueshima. This is the rarest of the katydids we described. It seems to prefer large-leafed plants with soft stems such as gingers and aroids. During the day the katydids rest with limbs outstretched on the undersides of the leaves. This habit is deeply ingrained as they perform the same behaviour in captivity on any leaf, green or not.
That's it for this offering.
Rentz, DCF, Su, YN, Ueshima, N. 2010. Studies in Australian Tettigoniidae: The agraeciine katydids, two new genera from Northern Australia (Tettigoniidae; Conocephalinae; Agraeciini). Zootaxa 2417: 1-39.
Rentz, DCF, Su, YN, Ueshima, N. 2012. Studies in Australian Tettigoniidae: New genera and species from north Queensland (Tettigoniidae; Conocephalinae; Armadillagraeciini trib. nov) and Agraeciini: Listroscelidinae; Requenini. Zootaxa 3173: 1-36.
Jottings from the Tropics: 31 January 2015
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