This page contains pictures and information about the Mountain Katydids that we found in the
Brisbane area, Queensland, Australia. They are also known Mountain
- Male, head to wing-tip 60mm
- Mountain Katydid is one of the Australian Insect Icon because of its
remarkable colours. In normal, the insect is well camouflaged as dry leaf in
dark brown colour. The katydids don't show their colours unless they are disturbed. Then
they raise the wing-covers and exposes the bright
red, blue and black striped abdomen.
- Female, body length
- Females are incapable of flight, having only small shell-like forewings They
do not have the 2nd pair
membrane functional wings. Male is fully winged, can fly and
look quite different. We found the females a few times but found the male
once. Nymph is dull brown to black in colour, with orange bands and orange collar, but no blue dotted lines. Larger nymph has wing buds.
- As a general rule, they display their colours only if touched. They raise
their wings to reveal bright coloured bands on the abdomen which presumably serve an
- Check this page
to hear their calling. Males sing in late afternoon and continues until
after dark. Females lay eggs in topsoil.
- From different reference information which indicated that the Mountain Katydids
may be abundant in a local area for a short period of time. Then their
number dropped very quickly to almost completely disappeared. This could be
due to the supply of the food plants. They are definitely not restricted only to mountains. We found them
in different location, include low bushland and next to creek. All areas we
found them were somewhat the wet eucalypt forest.
- Edith Coleman commented
in her 1938 paper that "They are numerous only where the ragwort abounds." The main feeding times of the Acripeza are twice daily, in the morning and
evening. They like sun-basking and quite active during this two periods. They rest under shelter for most of the other time.
- Within the ten years we found the Mountain Katydid only a few times. The
first time was the nymph on a log. Then an adult female was found on leaf and other
two females on tree trunk. All of them jumped onto the ground after we took a few photos.
The latest we found an adult male on 2010. Every time we felted like seeing an old friend when we saw a Mountain Katydid.
Followings are the records that we met our old friend since we first knew
the Mountain Katydid on 2002.
Nymph, Yugarapul Park, Sep 2002
- We initially thought Mountain Katydid live in high altitude habitat. Anyway,
we first found this Mountain Katydid nymph near Yugarapul Park in Sunny Bank,
Brisbane. Where is a low wet dense Eucalypt forest next to
the Bulimba Creek. It was September 2002. The nymph was resting on a dry grass. We took
it home to see how it grow.
- Male nymph, body length 25mm
- The Mountain
katydid nymph was black in colour with two white strips on its back. It was slow
moving. When disturbed, it bended its abdomen and show the bright orange
Two months later
- It moulted once within two months. Notice its two pair of wing-buds. From
the reference information, male Mountain Katydid nymph has two pair of
wing-buds while female only has one pair. So it's a boy!!
- We found that it feed on grass and like to eat the grass seeds. In the close up picture, we can cleanly see its mouth-parts and its
hearing organs on its front legs. It dead two months later. We did not know why it dead.
Female, Yugarapul Park, Dec 2005
- Body length 30mm
- On Dec 2005, we found another Mountain Katydid in Yugarapul
Park, about the same area where we found the nymph three years ago.
It was an adult female. It was resting on a Monkey Rope (Parsonsia straminea)
leaf about half a meter above ground in a hot summer afternoon. We looked
around and did not see other Mountain Katydid.
- Unlike most other katydids, the katydid was slow moving and not
able to hop. When disturbed, it drop onto the ground and displayed it colour-banded
abdomen. Then it slowly walked away. We discussed its primary and secondary
Female, Karawatha Forest Wild-May Trail, Feb 2007
- Body length 40mm
- On Feb 2007, in Karawatha Forest Wild-May Trail just next to the Lagoon,
we found another female Mountain Katydid. It was quite
unexpected because where was an open Eucalypt Forest next to the wetland,
very different from the dense forest in Yugarapul Park. The only
thing in common was both locations were very close to a creek with small
- The katydid was resting on a large
gum tree trunk about 1 meter above ground.
After we took some photos, it jumped onto the ground and slowly walk
- This individual we found is the larger than the one above. Its body length was 40mm.
Females and nymphs, Mt Tamborine, Beacon, Apr
- We received emails from Ian Menkins
on Apr 2008. He advised
that: " The mountain katydid was extremely common around Mt Tamborine a couple
months ago. So common in fact that residents reported being unable to walk around on their lawns without
stepping on them. I visited on the weekend and found about 40. There were both adult males and
females, and lots of little nymphs. Their numbers have dropped off, as it seems they've almost
completely eaten out the Ragwort Senecio spp. that is prevalent on the
- We got the directions from Ian and went to Mt Tamborine to try our luck.
It was a cloudy day with some rains. We found a female. It was resting on a small rock, disturbed by the falling
soils that we made when we walked down the slope.
- We quickly took some photos, let it walk on my hand and
then let it go. The female katydid was quite heavy, should be full of eggs.
- Female nymph
- Then about a few
meters away we saw an nymph hiding in dense grasses. We took a few photos too.
This nymph had only one pair of wing-bud so we believed it was a girl.
we spent another two hours in the area, hoping to find some more and even a male, but no more luck.
Male, Ford Road Conservation Area, Mar 2010
- We found the female Mountain Katydids a few times
but never saw a male. Finally we found one male on Mar 2010 in Ford Road Conservation Area.
Where was a wet open Eucalypt forest on a gentle
- The male Mountain Katydids was found
resting on a
medium size tree trunk about a meter above ground. The katydid was well camouflaged
and hardly be noticed. We noticed it only because it was weaving its long
- The male Mountain Katydid looked
very different to the female. The male's body and wings were the typical
katydid shape in the subfamily Phaneropterinae,
with thin narrow body and gum leaf shape wings. Except it is resemble a dry dark
brown leaf instead of a green fresh leaf.
- When first looked at
the katydid, we did not recognize it was a Mountain Katydid. In our
Katydid was a large fat round insect. We thought we found a new
black katydid species.
- We realized it was a
male Mountain Katydid when it showed
its orange neck ring and its blue-red banded abdomen.
- The male Mountain Katydid was slow
moving, when touched, it flied to a few meters away and landed on medium
size tree trunk or on glasses. It was not a good flier, just like other
species in the Bush Katydids
nymph, Daisy Hills, Nov 2010
- This confirmed two that Mountain Katydid can be found on
Found a male on Spider Web on Jan 2011 on Daisy Hills
- To our surprise, on Daisy Hills we found a male Mountain Katydid get caught in a
Golden Orb-Weaver spider
web. It was about two meters above ground.
- This confirmed that male Mountain Katydid can fly.
Male nymph, Ford Road Conservation Area, Feb 2011
- We found this nymph when it was hiding amount short grasses on
- In the wild Mountain Katydid
was observed feeding on Ragwort Senecio sp.. They fed on the
whole plant included flower bud and half the pedicel. Serval introduced Ragwort pest,
Senecio sp. were in the list. The native fireweed, Senecio
lautus, should be on their menu too.
- Ragwort, Native Fireweed
- Senecio lautus, family Asteraceae
- The Ragwort photos were taken at Beacon, Mt Tamborine, where and when I
found the female and nymph. There were not too many found there.
- Ragwort Senecio sp. Itís poisonous and it stinks. Those plants that the
Mountain Katydid eats would be unpalatable or even toxic to other animals.
The Mountain Katydid
stores them inside the body make themselves unpalatable to the
- In captivity, they accept sweet-corn, lettuce and other salad-greens, Ragwort is always
- Photo thanks to Ian Menkins
Menkins discovered that the Mountain Katydid females lay
eggs in topsoil. Before Ian's discovery most believed that Mountain Katydids
attached their eggs on stems or leaves high on the plants. Most katydids in Phaneropterinae
lay the eggs in this way and Mountain Katydids attach their eggs to the sides and top of the
cage. Ian found that Mountain Katydids did that just
because the katydids were under captivity without soil.
- Also, Edith Coleman in her 1938 paper commented that she never found any eggs on the branches of trees or shrubs in the wild, although she expected they should be there.
Menkins in his 2008 essay said: "I have only recently discovered that they often lay their eggs in the topsoil. They dig a small hole, lay the eggs, then carefully bury them and smooth the surface off meticulously with their tiny feet. Each female is capable of laying dozens of eggs in her lifetime. The eggs can take many months, possibly even years to hatch, waiting until conditions are just right. Only a small number of the ant-like young (called nymphs) will ever make it to adulthood."
- "Each egg was covered with grains of soil that had adhered to the sticky gel, so they looked like small rough clods or pebbles. An ideal camouflage!"
- "As time went by, I witnessed the katydids and their egg-laying habits many times on a daily basis. They showed no preferences with regard to colour of clay media, and would choose garden soil, garden/sand/lime mix, or clay without bias. However, I noticed that they visited the saucer containing the 4-10 mm diameter clay chunks a lot less frequently than the other saucers."
- Baby Mountain Katydid about 3 mm long
and ant likes.
- Because the Mountain Katydids are slow moving insects, they cannot avoid
their predator by running away. The strategy that the Mountain Katydids
apply to avoid predator is an typical example of slow moving insects. They
apply the three steps; not to be seen, bluffing and show that they are not
- Mountain Katydid males were usually low down on the stems where leaves were dead, harmonized perfectly with their colour. Together with their thin body, they are practically invisible.
Female are sometimes found in group sun-basking on ground. Their habitat is often where kangaroos
are common. The resemblance of the females to kangaroo droppings is not an coincidence.
The Mountain Katydid female mimics the kangaroo droppings, not to be seen,
as the primary defence.
- At a touch, up open the wing-covers showing colours in a "touch me now if you dare" challenge.
This is the secondary defence - bluffing.
- The bright colour and distaste is a tertiary backup if the camouflage fails.
- Please check the Insects as Prey
page for more discussion on this issue.
- 1. Insects
of Australia, CSIRO, Division of Entomology, Melbourne University
Press, 2nd Edition 1991, pp 384.
- 2. Acripeza reticulata - Australian Insect Common Names,
CSIRO, 16 June 2005.
- 3. Australian Insects, An Introductory Handbook - Keith C.
McKeown, 1945, p56.
- 4. Insects of Australia and New Zealand - R. J. Tillyard, Angus
& Robertson, Ltd, Sydney, 1926, p95.
- 5. Grasshopper
Country - the Abundant Orthopteroid Insects of Australia, D Rentz,
UNSW Press, 1996, p111.
- 6. Notes on Australian Mountain Grasshoppers - Edith Coleman, Victorian Naturalist, vol.
55, 66, Field Naturalists Club of Victoria, 1938, 1939, 1944.
- 7. Mountain Katydid
(Acripeza reticulata) - Menk from Darling Downs, Dec 31, 2007, Dave's Garden.
- 8. Coincidence or design ? - by Nuytsia@Tas, photostream, flickr, Uploaded on March 28, 2008.
- 9. Isolation of s-Butyl
β-D-Glucopyranoside from Acripeza reticulata - John Cable and Harold Nocke, Aust. J. Chem., 1975,28, 2737-9.
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