Katydids rely on their colour for protection

REMARKABLE: Katydids like this one use their colour to help them blend into their leafy surroundings, moving slowly.
REMARKABLE: Katydids like this one use their colour to help them blend into their leafy surroundings, moving slowly.

The green insect shown here is known as a katydid, a fairly common summer insect in Ballarat.

Its colour results in it being well-camouflaged in a garden, so it is not often seen.

Katydids rely on their colour for protection. They blend into their leafy surroundings and move slowly.

Occasionally, they hop like grasshoppers if disturbed, and the adults can fly short distances. The photo shows an immature common garden katydid.

Its wings are not fully developed. An adult’s wings would extend far beyond its body. Length of an adult is about 40mm.

Red-coloured young katydids are sometimes found on red flowers. This is caused by their food rather than by their changing colour to match their surroundings.

Yellow youngsters can be found feeding on yellow flowers.

Katydids grow by a series of moults, and the red or yellow colour can remain for a few moults. However, adult katydids are always green. They feed on leaves and flowers of a range of garden plants and native plants, and will also eat pollen and nectar. Small insects such as aphids are also eaten. Most of their feeding is done at night. The antennae of both adults and nymphs (young) are very long and fine.

Some species of katydids make a noise by rubbing their wings, but I am not aware of this in Ballarat.

The name katydid comes from the sound made by an American species. There are about 1000 species in Australia. The one usually found in Ballarat is the common garden katydid.

MARCH FLIES

Large biting march flies are an annual feature of late summer and autumn in some parts of the Ballarat district, but not so at other places. They were common at Durham Lead recently, but they do not seem to frequent the Creswick forest – at least not in the same numbers.

Most of the Creswick forest march flies are smaller and greyer, and not as numerous.

The larger, blacker, longer-legged march flies can be abundant and annoying in the Linton-Smythesdale district, particularly around forested areas.

There must be a reason why they are abundant to the south of Ballarat, but not to the north.

The trees and other vegetation are similar, so other features must be making a difference.

March flies spend their immature lives as grubs in damp rotting vegetation.

This stage lasts from a few months to up to a year, depending on the species.

They are thought to emerge as adults after summer rain.

As well as feeding on blood, march flies also consume nectar and plant juices.