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Monday, November 14, 2005

Katydid explosion

On a recent sunny day in beautiful OC, I heard a loud muffly greenish sound coming from the garden behind my office. With the camera, a .07 mech
anical pencil and some duct tape in hand for protection, I found nothing less than a katydid explosion going on. All stages of katydid (scudderia furcata)--adult female and male, several stages of nymphs and eggs--were present on the same plant. In the two weeks since then, a katydid baby boom has been going on, with clusters of newly hatched nymphs popping up all over. There's egg laying evidence on lemon grass and juncus; and the young nymphs are all found on other plants close to and above these and other ornamental grasses. In the case of the lemon grass, the eggs are found along the edges of the grass blades, as several slightly pointed ovals in a row. On the juncus, there are 1-2" areas chewed out along the rush blades.

Scudderia furcata's egg laying is said to be damaging to agricultural pests, particularly citrus. My experience suggests that in an orchard situation, it might be underlying grasses that support the egg laying with the nymphs climbing up into other food plants to feed after hatching. Or maybe I'm just not seeing the egg laying on the non-grassy plants where the hatchlings are abounding.

This is my first year taking detailed observations so I'm not sure if this population spike for this katydid is typical for November. We've had 1/2 to 1" of rain in October and a trace fell on 11/10. The past week's average minimum nighttime temperature has been about 50 degrees F, with a low of 47. The daytime average was 70 with a high of 80. We're expecting warm, dry weather for a bit but cooler nights. How long will these katydids keep popping, and if they do is this a sign of abnormally rainy dry cold foggy windy earthquakey smoggy warm end-of-times winter weather coming? And if so, will my camera, mechanical pencil, and duct tape protect me from it?

1 comment:

cheesemeister said...

Far out!
At my parents' house there was a sudden explosion, and subsequent orgy, of some sort of red and black beetle that looks like a "squash bug" but isn't. I forget what they are called. There were chains of them "going at." I find large numbers of bugs creepy and start feeling like they're crawling on me. A tad paranoid in the bug department. And when they're in orgy mode, it makes things even worse somehow. I made a b-line away from the garage where this horror show was taking place. My mother, not being as squeamish about bugs, got disgusted by the scene and started stomping on them.
I'd rather have seen the katydid explosion, personally. They're not as creepy.