Most insects, if found, are sure to be devoured by hungry predators. These predators include bats, birds, lions, and many other wild creatures. To avoid being another animalís dinner, insects have designed ingenious ways to camouflage themselves or keep them away.

Katydids, which are closely related to crickets and grasshoppers, are one of the few insect groups who have many marvelous survival strategies. There are about four thousand species of katydids in the world with about two thousand living in the Amazon rainforests alone. These insects are very important to the rainforests. They feed on a variety of flowers, stems, and fruits. Katydids are also an important source of protein for other animals such as birds, bats, and monkeys.

Until a few years ago, scientist hardly knew anything about how katydids protected themselves from predators. Ten years ago, the author and his colleague, David Nickle, began to study katydids in the tropical forest of northeastern Peru. Since then, the author, James Castner, has made over forty trips to the amazon of Peru. His partner and he have discovered over eighty new species of katydids. They have also been witnesses to hundreds of disguises and behaviors that fool their predators. These insects can go from looking like leaves on a branch (including using their legs as stems) to looking like other insects (having wings like that of a butterfly) to warning their potential warriors of their taste (displaying bright colors to warn other animals that they are nasty tasting). These insects have truly adapted to living in the amazon and using its many abilities to ward off predators. Katydids are truly amazing insects.














James Castner: Katydids: International Wildlife: May/June 1998

Volume: 28 no. 3; Pages: 24-30

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