(17 Feb. 2017) After years of night walks in the local National Parks one doesn’t expect to see a lot of new discoveries, but this insect puzzled us. Lying down on a leaf, looking either like a stick insect or a katydid (bush cricket), with something sticking upward from the neck.
After intervention by the QLD Museum and their – retired – katydid expert David Rentz, the diagnosis was made: Prochilus Brulle (do you mean ‘creme brulee’? google asked when I looked for background information). Prochilus Brulle was named after its initial discoverer Brullé (1835); the name was later changed, by – yes, the same – David Rentz to Zaprochilus Australis. He called our discovery an ‘unusual find’.
At rest by day, these katydids camouflage themselves as twigs. They lie lengthways along a small branch, with antennae pointing directly forwards and hind legs pointing backwards. They hold their wings at a 45 degrees angle from the body, ‘rolled’ so that they are almost cylindrical, mimicking a twig.
At night, they fly to flowers to feed on nectar and pollen, using their specialised lengthened mouthparts to reach deep into flowers and using specialised molar plates to crush pollen grains.
But, obviously, they go back to their mimicking act when nocturnal bush walkers arrive.
Using flash was one option, but one completely looses the nightly feeling of the photo. Torchlight works, but requires longer shutter times. The leaf was pretty fragile, and moved in the wind. The photo is a compromise. With 1/100 of a second the main section is in focus without ‘moving’. With ISO 200, an aperture of 4.0 was necessary, reducing the depth of field. The main parts are well visible though.