New species likes to be heard, not seen

The newly-discovered insect has an unbe-leaf-able disguise

The Andes mountain range stretches down the west coast of South America. It runs for 4,300 miles (7000 kilometres), and there are quite a lot of trees over that distance, so it’s not surprising that one species of bushcricket has managed to go unnoticed until recently.

Typophyllum spurioculis is a leaf-mimic katydid found in the mountains of Ecuador and Colombia. Its wings – complete with veins and blemishes – resemble leaves to prevent it from being spotted by predators among the dense vegetation. Members of the leaf-mimic katydid family can look like leaves in all their stages, from brand new and bright green to old and full of holes.

The uncanny camouflage isn’t the only unusual thing about the insect. In other bushcrickets, a small structure acts like a drum to amplify vibrations created by the wings, producing the animal’s high-pitched call. In this new species, the entire wing acts as a resonator, resulting in a remarkably loud and low call that’s audible to humans.


Photo credit: Andrew Baker