This page contains pictures and information about the Gum-leaf Katydids that we found in the
Brisbane area, Queensland, Australia.
- Female, 50mm
Adult Gum-leaf Katydids resemble gum leaf,
both in shape and colour. Some adults may have brown markings on their legs. Their
front wings look exactly like a gum leaf, with the thick white vein at the middle. Both
adults and nymphs feed on gum leaves.
- Although they feed on eucalypt leaves, like most
of other katydids, they do not cause much economic damage.
The elder nymphs look similar to adults except wingless and with brown patterns on body and legs.
Those brown patterns resemble the brown spots that they made on the gum leaves.
- Medium instars
- The young nymphs look quite different
from their adults, instead they look like large brown ants. Their brown colour gradually
disappear when grow up. It is believed that they mimic
ants to gain some protection.
- Young nymph, body length 10mm
Their hind pair of legs are longer
and stronger than the front and mid pair. However , they are thinner than the
hind legs of grasshoppers. We seldom see them jump. Instead, they kick with their
spiny hind legs if disturbed. All their legs are armed with spins.
- Above pictures were taken at Wishart Outlook Bushland on Feb 2001 and May
have body length 15mm. At that time we did not recognize it was the nymph of
Gum Leaf Katydid.
- We found a female Gum-leaf Katydid feeding on a gum
tree at night in Wishart bushland during late summer 2001. We took it home for
a closer observations. After two days, she started to lay eggs. Totally she
batches of eggs before we put it back to the bush. The pictures below
showing she was laying the first batch of eggs on the edge of a gum tree leaf.
- The katydid laid ten eggs along the edge of a gum tree
leaf. The eggs were dark brown in colour, in oval disk shape with 4mm in
length. The eggs looked like plant seeds. The katydid lay totally three batches (10, 8, 9 in qty) of eggs
every alternative night.
- The following pictures show the katydid laying eggs on gum stem.
- She first cuts an opening on the stem using her sharp ovipositor.
Into which she lays the hard, black and
- She carefully glues their eggs in row, then she repeats the whole
procedure for another egg.
- We noticed one thing quite interesting. We
kept the katydid openly in a corner of our room on a branch of gum
The katydid had no problem on staying there for the whole day. But every
time after she laid her eggs, she had the very strong intention to move to
another location, even if we tried to stop it. After it flied to the other
corner of our room, we put it back to the same branch of leave, then it
stayed there comfortably until laying the next batch of eggs. We think this
could be the instinct of the katydid that naturally selected to avoid too many eggs laid at the same
- The female lay eggs on leafs and stems. Their ovipositor are short when
compare with other species of katydids. But it is strong and sharp, as shown in
the above picture. It is used for cutting the surface of the leaf or stem, into which the hard, black and
disk-like eggs are laid. Then the female carefully glue their eggs in row.
Because they lay eggs on plants and their eggs look like plants materials,
katydids are sometimes distributed by nursery stock.
- We found some katydid eggs in the wild on mid winter season.
- 1st instars, 10mm
- We will never guess this is the first instars of the Gum Tree Katydid until
we saw their development. They hatched on spring to early summer. They are dark
brown to black in colours. They are quite large in size as a first
instars, about 10mm in body length. Young instars look like large black ants.
This is an advantage to the young instars for most predators will avoid
armed ants. They have very long antennae, about four times their body
length. They are very active, running and jumping between plants.
- 2nd instars, 12mm
- A few days to a week later, after their first moulting, they have more
green colour patterns on their body. Their body length becomes 12mm. And
they look a little more like their parents. The picture above was taken on a gum tree in late spring. The young
katydid wander on leaves and tree trunk. Look like an ant is sure an
- Medium instars, 15mm
- Their antennae are longer than their body. We
noticed that if its antennae is broken, it will re-grow to normal length after
- Medium instars, 15mm
Their compound eyes are relatively small, with poor eye sight. Their simple
eyes (ocelli) can hardly be seen. From the response shown by their antennae, they can see
my hand within 30cm. But they seems cannot distinguish my hand from a branch of
- Their antennae are located on the head in front of the compound eyes. The
antennae are segmented and are used as organs of smell and touch. They have
strong chewing mouthparts for eating the gum tree leaves, which is very tough to
our standard. Check this page
for more information about insects' head.
- Late instars, 25mm
- The Gum-leaf Katydid late instars camouflage gum leaves. Beside, the nymphs
also look almost the
same as the nymphs of the 32-Spotted katydid
except their legs are not spiny. We believe this nymph mimics the other
mimicry) to gain some protections.
- Last instars, 30mm
From Nymph to Adult
- On 2001 early winter, we found a Gum Leaf Katydid nymph on a gum tree. At that time
we did not know they are the Gum Leaf Katydid. We wanted to know what
would they be when they grow up. We took them home and watched them grow. We put them openly on a
few branches of gum tree leaves, held in a water bottle. We replaced with flash
branches every week. The next week we found another nymph and we put them
- The following pictures recorded the grow rate of the two
- 21/05/01, 15mm, just after moulting, eating their own old skin.
- Both of them were found on the same type of gum tree and they were
sitting on leafs about one meter above
the ground. They did not eat much, less than a leaf per day. We sprinkle water on the leaves twice a day. The insects
moved and hided under leaves to avoid getting wet, then came up and drank
- 23/06/01, 18mm, still looked very different from adult.
- 08/07/01, 20mm, with small wing buds.
- 15/07/01 22mm, with larger wing bubs, look similar to adult.
- After few weeks later, with about two or three times of moulting, we saw that one
katydid nymph was male and the other female. It is not too
difficult to tell, female has the distinctive ovipositor
for laying eggs which the male does not have.
- The two katydids seem like to eat the leafs on the tips of the branch. They
will eat about 1/8 to 1/4 of the leaf per day. Sometime they choose only brown part of
the leaf to eat. They do not eat much, spend most of the time sitting on a
- 08/08/01, finally, after the last moulting, she became an female
- The male became an adult three days later. She did the last
moulting at evening and the male did it at mid-night. The moulting took a few hours. The
above pictures show she was pumping
blood into her wings to extend them before hardening. Katydid moulting is
always done in a hanging position. In this stage, if the katydid were drop
onto the ground or any of their body parts were entangled, her body shape
would not be normal.
- After all body part are hardened and ate the shed skin and she became an
- We can find the adults and nymphs of different stages throughout the year in
Brisbane. The Gum Leaf Katydid seems does not have seasonal
growing cycle. This is different from the Giant Grasshoppers, they
have the one year growing cycle and we will see only adults in winter.
Their Love Song
- Katydids and crickets are the major noise source in the field at night. The
male produce sound, known as stridulation, to call for the
female. They usually sing for the whole night. Both female and male have
their hearing organs on their front pair of legs. Gum Leaf Katydid produce
the sound by rubbing their two front pair of wings, or tegmen, together. There
are the raised vein on the underside of both tegmen. By rubbing them together,
just like rubbing the teeth of two combs against each other.
- The male katydid that we keep sings not very often, about two to five times
from evening to twelve o'clock before we sleep. Every time is just three
'did-did-did' sounds, and never sing when I come close. So I do not have the
sound record, like what we have done for the Mole
- Male Katydid, notice the hearing organs on its front pair of legs. If you
see carefully, on its tegmen, the area brown in colour, you may see the
pattern reflected under side. It make the sound by rubbing them together.
- Different species
produce different pattern and different frequency of stridulation. This is the
common way of katydids and crickets making the sound. However, the Mole
Crickets produce the sound in the different way.
- Above pictures show the female with a transferred spermatophore.
Mating occurs with the male katydid transferring a spermatophore which
contains the sperm packet. With the spermatophore, the male provides a meal
to the female. This benefits to the female and the eggs. Which is the
contribution of the male to his offspring. Transfer of spermatophore is
common in katydid species.
- We found that they usually active at night. Actually their 'active' in not really
active. They feed on leaf and walk around within a small area. In day time they
usually stand still on a leaf near the tips of the branch. Usually it will take
us minutes to find them even we know where to look for.
- Gum Leaf Katydid like to hide on the tips of the branch, but not on the top of the tree. This may help them to avoid the predation
from birds. This also explained why we find them easier than those species
hiding on the tree top.
- We notice a interesting way that Gum Leaf Katydids handle their droppings.
Most insects, such as the Giant Grasshoppers and
most caterpillars, just
let their droppings drop vertically onto the ground, or the leave just under
them. Sometime if we noticed their droppings we can locate them. For the Gum Leaf Katydids,
we notice that every time, when their droppings are half way out, they use
their hind leg, either left or right, to kick their dropings far away. This will help them
to hide away from the predators.
- This habit is somewhat similar to the Goliath
Stick Insects. To see another way of dropping handling, please click here.
- The Katydid's dropping, 3mm in length, evenly distributed on the floor,
not just concentrated on one spot under the insect.
- They always eat the shard skin after moulting. So that their predator
cannot find them by their left-over skin either.
- 1. Grasshopper Country - the Abundant Orthopteroid Insects of Australia, D
Rentz, UNSW Press, 1996, p111.
- 2. Australian Insects, An Introductory Handbook - Keith C.
McKeown, 1945, p55.
- 3. A Guide to the Katydids of Australia - David Rentz, CSIRO PUBLISHING, 2010,
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