The Rountdheaded Katydids

The members of this first group of the katydid family are characterized by large wings and a smooth round forehead. They compose the subfamily Phanercp-tennae, which includes species that attain the acme of grace, elegance, and refinement to be found in the entire orthopteran order. Nearly all che round-headed katydids are musical to some degree, but their productions are not round forehead. They compose the subfamily Phanercp-tennae, which includes species that attain the acme of grace, elegance, and refinement to be found in the entire orthopteran order. Nearly all che round-headed katydids are musical to some degree, but their productions are not

Fi<; .1. A bush katydid, Scuddirui jurcata .pper figure, a male; lower, .1 female in the act of cleaning a hmd foot

of a high order. On the other hand, though their notes are in a high key, they are usually not loud and not of the kmd that keep you awake at n*ght

Among this group are the bush katydids, the species of which are of medium size with slenderer wings than the others, and are comprised in the genus usually known as Scudderia but also called Phaneroptera. They have acquired the name of bush katydids because the)'' are usuall)' found on low shrubbery, particularly along the edges of moist meadows, chough they inhabit other places, too. and their notes are often heard at night about the house. Our commonest SDecies, and one that occurs over most of the United States, is the fork-tailed bush katydid (Scudderia jurcatd). Figure i\ shows a male and a female, the female m the act of cleaning the pads on one of her hind feet. The katydids are ail very particular about keeping their feet clean, for it is quite essential to have then' adhesive pads always in perfect working order; but they are so continually stopping whatever tney may be doing to lick one foot 01 another, like a dog scratching flea.s; that it looks more like an ingrown habit with them than a necessarv act of cleanliness. The fork tailed katydid is an unpretentious singer and has only one note, a high-pitched zeep reiterated several tmes in succession. But it does not re peat the series continuously, as most other singers do, and its music is likely to be lost to human ears in the general din from the jazzing bands of crickets Yet occasionally its soft ztep, zeep, zeep may be heard from a near-by bush or from the lower branches of a tree

The notes of other species have been described as zikk, zikk, zikk. or zeet, zeet, zeet, and some observers have recorded two notes for the same species Thus Scudder says that the day notes and the n.ght notes of Scudderia curvi-cauda differ considerably, the day ncte being represented by bzrvn, the night note, which is only half as long as the other, by tchw. (With a little practice the reader should be able to give a good imitation. of this katydid.) Scudder furthermore says that they change from the day note to the night note when a cloud passes over the sun as they are singing by day.

The genus Amblycarypha includes a group of species having wider wings than those of the bush katydids. Most of them are indifferent singers; but one, the oblong-winged katydid \A. oblongifoua), found over all the eastern half of the United States and southern Canada, is noted for its large srze and dignified manners. A male. (Fig. 11)} kept by the writer one summer in a cage, never once lost his decorum by the humihati on of confinement. He lived ap parently a natural and contented lite, feeding on grape leaves and on ripe grapes, obtaining the pulp of the latter by gnawing holes through the skin. He was always sedate, always composed, his motions always slow and deliberate. In walking he carefully lifted each foot and brought the leg forward with a steady movement to the new position.

Fig, 11 The oblong-v ..iged katydid, Amilycorypha oblongifotia, male

where the foot was carefullv set down agam. Only m the act of jumping did he ever make a quick movement of any sort. But his preparations for the leap were as calm and unhurried as his other acts: pointing the head upward, dippmg the abdomen slowly downward, the two long hind legs bending up in a sharp inverted V on each side of the body, he would lead one to think he was deliberately preparing to sit down on a tack; but, all at once, a catch seems to be released somewhere as he suddenly springs upward rnto the leaves overhead at which he had taken such long and careful aim.

For a long time the aristocratic prisoner uttered no sound, but at last one evening he repeated three times a squeaking note resembling shriek with the s much aspirated and with a prolonged vibration on the ie. The next evening he played again, making at first a weak swish, swish, swish, with the. .r very sibilant and the i very vibratory But after giving (his as a prelude he began a sh ill shm-e-e-e-k, shrid-e-e-t-k, repeated six rimes, a loud sound described by Blatchley as a ' creakmg squawk like the noise made by drawing a fine-tooth« d comb over a taut string

The best-known members of the round-headed katydids, and perhaps of the whole family, are the angular-winged katydids (Fig. 23). These are large, maple-leaf green insects, much fattened from side to side, with the leaflike wings folded high over the back and abruptly bent on the'.r upper margins, giving the creatures the humpbacked ap^ pearance from which they get their name of angular winged katydids The sloping surface of the back 1:1 front of the hump makes a large flat triangle, plain in the female, but in the male corrugated and roughened by the veins of the musical apparatus

There are two species of the angular-wmged katydids in the United States, both belonging to the genus Microcen-trum, one distinguished as the larger angular winged katydid, M. rhombifotium, and the other as the smaller angu-lar-wmged katydid, M. retmerve. The females of the larger species (Fig. 23), is the more common one, reach a length of iy& inches measured to the tips of the wings. They lay flat, oval eggs, stuck in rows overlapping like scales along the surface of some twig or on the edge of a leaf.

The angular-w:ngea katydids are attracted to lights and may frequently be found on warm summer nights in the shrubbery about the house, or even on the porch and the screen doors. Members of the larger species usually make their presence known by the:ir soft but high-pitched notes resemb'ing tzeet uttered in short series, the first notes repeated rapidly, the others successively more slowly as the tone becomes also less sharp and piercing. The song may be written tzeet-tzeet-tzeet-tzeet-tzek-tzek-tzek-tzuk-tzuk, though the high key and shrill tones of the notes must be

Fig. 23. The larger angular-winged katydid, Microcentrum rhombifolium Upper figure, a male; lower, a female

imagined. Riley describes the song as a series of raspings "as of a stiff quill drawn across a coarse file," and Allard says the notes "are sharp; snapping crepitations and sound like the slow snapping of the teeth of a stiff comb as some object is slowly drawn across it." He represents them thus: tek-ek-ek-ek-ek-ek-ek-ek-ek-ek-ek-tzip. But, however the song of Microcentrum is to be translated into English, it contains no suggestion of the notes of his famous cousin, the true katydid. Yet most people confuse the two species, or rather, heating the one and seeing the other, they draw the obvious but erroneous conclusion that the one seen makes the sounds that are heard

The smaller angular-winged katydid. Microcentrum reti-nerve, is not so frequently seen as the other, but it has similar habits, and may be heard in the vines or shrubbery about the house at night. Its song is a sharp zeet,, zeet, the three syllables spaced as in ka-ty-did, and it is probable that many people mistake these notes for those of the true katydid.

The angular-winged katydids are very gentle and unsuspicious creatures, allowing themselves to be picked up without any attempt at escaping. But they are good flyers, and when launched into the air sad about like miniature airplanes, with their large wings spread out straight on each side When at rest they have a comical habit of leaning over sidewise as if their flat forms were top-heavy.

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