An ornate creature from our Rio Zuñac Reserve

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Click on any of these to enlarge. Photo: Lou Jost/EcoMinga

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Photo: Lou Jost/EcoMinga

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Katydid: Moncheca sp. (M. elegans or new species). Those jaws bit me many times during my photo shoots. Photo: Lou Jost/EcoMinga

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Photo: Lou Jost/EcoMinga

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Photo: Lou Jost/EcoMinga

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Photo: Lou Jost/EcoMinga

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Photo: Lou Jost/EcoMinga

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Photo: Lou Jost/EcoMinga

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Different species of insects are primarily distinguished by their male genitalia. We found both a female (with sword-shaped ovipositor) and a male individual of this species. I include the genitalia here in case there is some expert who can help decide whether this is a new species. It is similar to Moncheca elegans but the colors are not right. Photo: Lou Jost/EcoMinga

My friends Tom Walla and Johanna Varner, professors at Colorado Mesa University, came to visit our Rio Zunac and Cerro Candelaria Reserves last month. They set up a light to attract night insects. They were especially interested in moths, and I’ll write more about that later. But along with many amazing moths we attracted two feisty individuals of this spectacular katydid. They were very active and often did a raised-wing display to try to scare me. They also really enjoyed biting me with their giant bright yellow mandibles. I became fascinated by them. They stayed alive for two weeks, allowing me to observe and photograph them (I found that they like to eat flowers), and when they died I mounted them and photographed them even more.

They belong to the genus Moncheca, which contains some of the world’s fanciest katydids, like M. pretiosa. Our individuals are most like M. elegans, but the colors don’t match an expert-certified photo on the internet. The male genitalia are the definitive way to tell them apart, so I provide a photo of the genitalia above in case an expert looks at this post. This exact form has been seen and photographed by my friend Andreas Kay, and also by someone named Moira who submitted her picture of it (from Sumaco, in eastern Ecuador, not far from our reserve) to an internet bug ID site, to no avail.

Lou Jost, EcoMinga Foundation

 

 

6 thoughts on “An ornate creature from our Rio Zuñac Reserve

  1. It’s a fact that interest in insects is far too limited. A few problems are that they are often quite small, somewhat hard to identify because there are WAY more insects than any other easily visible organism and enough of them sting or bite to make people too cautious to get close to any of them. They are discriminated! The close-up photographs of this katydid do a great method to make insects more interesting to examine. And there are so many insects that maybe every year a few thousand more species are newly identified. Great presentation, Lou.

    (And I’m eagerly awaiting your blog on the moths drawn by the night lights. I’ve been with entomologists doing that and it’s very cool to see what excitement those folks display in the dark of the night.)

  2. What a beautiful and fascinating insect! Your macro work is fantastic! This is the kind of macro work that can open up a whole new world for people. Congratulations!

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