Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

Anglewing Katydid nymph

from the December 11, 2011 Newsletter issued from Hacienda Chichen Resort beside Chichén Itzá Ruins, central Yucatán, MÉXICO

Above that's a katydid nymph -- a nymph being an immature stage of insect undergoing incomplete metamorphosis -- atop a Tree Cotton's developing boll  You know that it's immature because its wings are only partly developed. Also, it's a female, because of that curved blade-like thing at the end of her abdomen. That's an ovipositor, used for depositing eggs. I sent the picture to volunteer identifier Bea in Ontario who recognized it as a member of the Katydid Family just by looking, and further figured out that it was a member of the False Katydid Subfamily, the Phaneropterinae.

However, just in the False Katydid Subfamily there are nearly 2060 species in 85 genera worldwide, so I tried to narrow it down a little more. Fortunately, on the Internet I stumbled upon a nicely illustrated Key to Families and Subfamilies of Katydids.

Remembering that our critter was about 40cm long (1-¾ inches) and consulting features visible in our photo, with that key I could confirm Bea's diagnosis. Moreover, using the Key to Genera of False Katydids at  I was further able to make a good guess that ours is an anglewing katydid, genus Microcentrum. I say "guess" because this key is for Florida, and we may have other genera here the key doesn't take into account. However, Microcentrum is a big genus so it's a good guess.

So, "female nymphal anglewing katydid"... Wikipedia says of members of the Phaneropterinae that "Their eggs are rarely deposited in the earth or twigs but are either glued fast in double rows to the outer surface of slender twigs or are inserted in the edges of leaves."

By the way, I think that the family name of "false katydid" just indicates that in some views an anglewing katydid isn't a katydid; it's an anglewing katydid...

More and more the Internet is becoming mind-bogglingly helpful as a resource for naturalists trying to understand what they're seeing. What an amazing moment in human evolutionary history we're all living in, and what a pleasure to be so vividly conscious of, and eager to participate in, that evolution!

from the December 18, 2011 Newsletter issued from Hacienda Chichen Resort beside Chichén Itzá Ruins, central Yucatán, MÉXICO

On some mornings this week it was chilly enough for your breath to form steam if you stepped outside after drinking something hot. However, most mornings also have been clear, so at sunrise the sun's rays soon began burning off dew and warming things up. That's when butterflies find leaves facing directly into the sun and for several minutes perch holding their wings perpendicular to the incoming rays, basking. Birds perch on high, leafless snags preening in the sunlight, or just sitting there looking about.

On a Chaya bush next to the hut, on two such mornings an angular-winged katydid cautiously leaned from her overnight shelter of two leaves almost touching another below, exposing herself to the sun, as shown below:

Anglewing Katydid

Since a katydid has been showing up in the same general area almost daily for the last two weeks, I'll bet that this is the same one we looked at last week when she was still in a nymphal stage with her wings not yet expanded (see above).