Who is Steve, you ask? Well Steve is one of our two true katydid nymphs that we have had here in the lab for a few weeks now. He lives in a nice double-decker cage with his buddy Sampson on the windowsill next to my desk where they can get lots of sun. We give them fresh food every other day and mist them with water to hydrate them. Our goal is to make them happy so that they molt. Steve and Sampson are only nymphs, and won’t make noise until they are adults. It’s actually a lot like growing a plant, except even better because you can interact with them (no offense to plants). And since we aren’t sure which life cycle stage they are in, what they look like after a molt will be a surprise.
Yesterday I was a little concerned for Steve. He wasn’t moving much and seemed sluggish. I know my Steve and I knew he was either getting ready to molt or he wasn’t feeling very well…I hoped for the best and left for the night. I came into the lab this morning and when I checked on “the boys”, what did I see? A fresh molt on the bottom of the cage! It looks kind of like a dead spider, minus two legs. I immediately started searching the cage for Steve and Sampson. The cage may not be large, but boy are those katydids camouflaged well! After a minute of searching I realized I was staring right at Steve…and he was huge!!!
What I also realized was that he was not a true katydid at all…they are an entirely different shape, more short and stout than long like Steve. After a bit of research I discovered that he is actually an oblong winged katydid. Who knew? Surprises all around! Now we wait and hope he starts calling. Let’s hope Sampson joins him in adulthood soon too!