The Siren’s Call–Katy-don’ts

I’ve talked about zombies (also here and here) and how nature always seems to beat us to the punch when it comes to legends.  Here’s an example of a real life siren.

I just heard about the coolest katydid!  It is a carnivorous katydid, which surprised me because I am accustomed to katydids being herbivorous (like this one).

(If you don’t believe that katydids can be cool, read this: “Studies conducted in 2010 at the University of Derby by Karim Vahed, Darren Parker and James Gilbert found that the Tuberous Bushcricket (Platycleis affinis) has the largest testes in proportion to body mass of any animal recorded. They account for 14% of the insect’s body mass and are thought to enable a fast re-mating rate.” (Vahed et al. 2010))

The katydid that is the topic of today’s post (Chlorobalius leucoviridis) exhibits what is known as “aggressive mimicry”, which means that it steals a signal from a prey item and uses it to capture said prey item.

You may remember this guy from Finding Nemo, source

You may remember this guy as an example of aggressive mimicry from Finding Nemo, source

The Spotted Predatory Katydid can attract delicious male cicadas by imitating the noise the female makes.  The katydid is exceptional in that it can attract male cicadas of more than one species, though the mating calls are species specific.  Indeed, a study by Marshall and Hill (2009) showed that: “Remarkably, the katydids respond effectively to a variety of complex, species-specific Cicadettini songs, including songs of many cicada species that the predator has never encountered.  We propose that the versatility of aggressive mimicry in C. leucoviridis is accomplished by exploiting general design elements common to the songs of many acoustically signaling insects that use duets in pair-formation.” (that article is open access) Smart katydid!

In other words, this katydid is the mythological siren that Odysseus faced in his odyssey, luring unwary cicadas to their deaths.

Odysseus and the sirens, courtesy of

Odysseus and the sirens, courtesy of

Oh, and if you want to know why I would call them “katy-don’ts”, just take a look at this photo.

Spotted Predatory Katy-don't, courtesy of

Spotted Predatory Katy-don’t, photo by Mark Bell


One thought on “The Siren’s Call–Katy-don’ts

  1. Pingback: Cross Dressing Plants | standingoutinmyfield

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