Friday, 14 January 2011

Tableland Treasures

A recent evening trip between thunderstorms to the Atherton Tableland did not reveal many orthopteroid species, but there was quality material in what was observed.

We were perplexed at the condition of the forest but then came realise that it had been in the path of Cyclone Larry a few years ago. That explained the tangle of branches and timber on the ground in the forest itself. We were in an area of about 1100m elevation, considerably higher than that of Kuranda which is about 330 m. It was cooler, of course, species component of plants quite different. The orthopteroid fauna in large measure was also quite different. Some of the results of our investigation are noted below.
This delicate little katydid is an undescribed species in the genus Chloracantha. it is a member of the tribe Simoderini in the subfamily Pseudophyllinae. It is known from a handful of specimens from the Atherton Tableland and the Kuranda region.

The Silent Spiny Katydid, Phricta tortuwallina Rentz, Su and Ueshima, was only recently described Rentz et al. (2005). It differs in many respects from the more widespread and more common Spiny Katydid, Phricta spinosa (Redtenbacher). It is smaller, more spiny, with the spines of the thorax vertical in position and, unusually lacks a stridulatory file. This is one of the few katydids where the males do not produce a call.
This Silent Spiny Katydid was feeding on the seedhead of a tall grass plant along the margin of the rainforest.
Caedicia goobita Rentz, Su and Ueshima is an uncommon resident of the rainforests in the Kuranda region. It was hitherto unknown from the Atherton Tableland. It was also recently described, Rentz et al. (2008)
This agraeciine katydid is one of several species in an undescribed genus. It is fairly common in the Atherton Tableland but not know from the rainforest in Kuranda or the Daintree region.

A nice find. This Raspy Cricket, Acanthogryllacris curvispina (Karny), was described in 1929 from Malanda, not far from where we were searching. It received its name because of the two prominent spines on the hind femora. It apparently has a very restricted geographical distribution and has not been found far from its type locality.

An unusual cricket, Transaevum laudatum Johns, lives in burrows underground and emerges after dark to forage. This species also occurs in the rainforests around Kuranda.

The white-kneed King Cricket, Penalva flavocalceata (Karny), spends the day underground in vertical burrows underground, emerging at night to feed. It seems to be an opportunistic feeder. This female unsuccessfully attacked a large cicada that was attracted to lights.
The Bull Cricket, Gryllotaurus bicornis Walker, is so named because males have short horn at the base of the antennae on each side of the face. This is a female and was feeding on the seed heads of a grass in the evening. This species seems restricted to higher elevations and has not been found in Kuranda.

Literature Cited

Rentz, DCF, Su, Y-N., Ueshima, N. 2005. Studies in Australian Tettigoniidae. The genus Phricta Redtenbacher (Orthoptera: Pseudophyllinae; Phrictini). Transactions of the American Entomological Society 131: 131-158.

Rentz, DCF, Su, Y-N., Ueshima, N. 2005. Studies in Australian Tettigoniidae: New Phaneropterine katydids from Queensland Rainforests (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae; Phaneropterinae). Zootaxa 1964: 1-39.


Snail said...

This block has been inundated by orthopterans lately. (I'm in rainforest not far from Malanda.) I'm going to have to start keeping photographic records, just in case they turn out to be something rare or unusual.

Ted C. MacRae said...

Those spiny katydids are marvelous!

Mr. Smiley said...

Thanks Folks

Snail, yes keep you camera handy. With this year's peculiar weather pattern, anything is possible, including some neat beetles that would delight Ted. We get the icon of Queensland beetles, the King Stag Beetle, Phalacrognathus meulleri. This is a tough one to photograph and get the colour to reproduce, but you'll know it when you see it.


randomtruth said...

Great finds. I could totally have keyed out that Phricta. :)