Wednesday, 25 July 2012

A Welcome Find

It is not everyone's cup of tea to be wondering in the dark of a winter's night in the forests of Davies Creek in Dinden National Park. But it can pay dividends.

Such a foray on a windy, cool night resulted in the discovery of a nymph of the Balsam Beast, Anthophiloptera dryas Rentz and Clyne. I have written of this before and the other member, Zaprochilus mongabarra Rentz,  of this endemic subfamily of katydids (Tettigoniidae) that occur in the northern tropics.

This discovery of A. dryas in a stand of mixed eucalypts, acacia and Casuarina on a winter's night was welcome. But it is not too surprising because all of the Zaprochilinae are winter and spring-occurring katydids. All feed on flowers, pollen and nectar. This nymph was having a go at the pollen on the many grasses that grow as the understorey of the forest. It has a few moults to go before it is an adult. But it had better hurry so that it can fly and escape the peril of the "control burn" which is inevitable in this National Park. Incidentally, this is the westernmost known locality record for this species. It is not known from the forests on the Atherton Tableland but should be sought there.
The prognathous mouthparts are a characteristic of this subfamily. This supposedly enables the katydid to penetrate deep into a flower and retrieve nectar. Note the small sword-like structure emerging from the tip of the abdomen. This is the developing ovipositor and that tells us the katydid has a couple of moults to go before it is an adult. This should happen in late August.

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