Crickets and Katydids
Field Guide
Crickets and Katydids Biology
Questions for Discussion

Striped Raspy Cricket
Spider Face Leaf-rolling Cricket
Three Eyed Leaf-rolling Cricket
Pale-brown Leaf-rolling Cricket 
Greenish Meadow Katydid
Whitish Meadow katydid 
Blackish Meadow Katydid
Reddish Meadow Katydid 
Spine-headed Katydid 
Predatory Katydid
Short-winged Swayer 
Snub-nose Katydid 
Brown-backed Katydid
White-backed Nymph
Naskrecki's Bush Katydid 
32-Spotted Katydid
Speckled Katydid
Common Garden Katydid 
Common Garden Katydid
Brisbane Garden Katydid
Dark Green Katydid 
Unknown Nymph- I
Unknown Nymph- II 
Small Grassland Katydid
Gum Leaf Katydid  
Mountain Katydid
Unidentified Katydids
Slow-chirping Cricket
Silent Leaf-runner
Spider Cricket
Ground Cricket 1
Ground Cricket 2 
Silent Bush Cricket
Scaled Cricket 
Common Mole Cricket
Dark Night Mole Cricket 

Unidentified Cricket


Gum-leaf Katydid - Torbia viridissima


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.

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Although they feed on eucalypt leaves, like most of other katydids, they do not cause much economic damage.
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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. 

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Medium instars                                                       Last instars                                                           Adult
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.
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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.

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Above pictures were taken at Wishart Outlook Bushland on Feb 2001 and May 2001, both have body length 15mm. At that time we did not recognize it was the nymph of Gum Leaf Katydid. 

Laying Eggs

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 laid three 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.
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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.
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She first cuts an opening on the stem using her sharp ovipositor. Into which she lays the hard, black and disk-like eggs.
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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 leaves. 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 location.  
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. 

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We found some katydid eggs in the wild on mid winter season. 


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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.
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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 advantage.
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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 next moulting. 
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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 leaf. 

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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. 
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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 species (Batesian mimicry) to gain some protections.  
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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 together.
The following pictures recorded the grow rate of the two Katydids.
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 the water. 
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. 
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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 leaf.
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 08/08/01, finally, after the last moulting, she became an female adult. 
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 adult . 
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 Cricket.
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. 
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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, p180. 

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Up ] Brown-backed Bush Katydid ] White-backed Katydid Nymph ] Naskrecki's Bush Katydid ] 32-Spotted Katydid ] Speckled Katydid ] Common Garden Katydid ] ? Common Garden Katydid Nymph ] Brisbane Garden Katydid ] Dark Green Katydid ] Unknown Bush Katydid Nymph 1 ] Unknown Bush Katydid Nymph 2 ] Small Grassland Katydid ] [ Gum Leaf Katydid ] Mountain Katydid ]


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Last updated: June 06, 2011.