Sunday, February 26, 2012


Hey ya'll 

The insects from Kuantan and Genting have officially come off the spreading board and I would like to start with non other than this beautiful insect known as a Katydid. 

When I first tell people of this insect's peculiar name, they often respond with a "Katy did, what?" possibly in reference to a question regarding something a certain Katy might have done. But considering how I do not know anybody, nor have I ever known anyone personally by the name of Katy, I find this somewhat perplexing. Instead, I explain to them that the name Katydid is really an onomatopoeia of sorts as it somewhat resembles the insect's "cry". Though often called long-horned grasshoppers, Katydids are really closely related to crickets and are from the family Tettigoniidae. Known more colloquially as bush-crickets, Katydids are one of the many invertebrate masters in the art of camouflage. They have two pairs of wings, like many other insects, but while the lower pair are used primarily for flight, the upper-most pair of wings are often adapted to resemble flowers, leaves and other such parts of plants. The camouflage is so effective, in fact, that when kept in groups in captivity, other Katydids are sometimes fooled into believing that they are parts of the plant and will even take a bite off of the wing of an unsuspecting insect! That being said, while many katydids are in fact herbivorous, some have been known to demonstrate carnivorous tendencies and will attack small insects, reptiles and even (though rarely) snakes! And they are certainly equipped for this for they possess a pair of jaw-like mechanism known as "mandibles" which are so sharp as to be able to strip off bark! Indeed should the insect object to being handled by one such as myself, it might even be so bold as to use it's mandibles to inflict a nip, which can be rather painful.
Katydid with its wings open
When we think about record-breaking body parts, we often think of other animals, but it is in fact a member of this species which holds the current record for having the largest testes in proportion to the size of its body. The reproductive organs of the males are so large in fact, that they are thought to comprise of up to 14% of the entire insect's body mass!!! Indeed this is perhaps useful for it would mean that the katydid would have relatively faster reproduction cycles in the wild.

On a separate note, I'm sure if you read the papers at all, that you will be aware of the demonstrations that have been taking place in objection to the Lynas rare-earth plant that is scheduled to be opening in Kuantan. Still anxious as to how that will eventually work out although, I must say it was very heartening to witness so many Malaysians showing their support and concern for the environment!

All of that aside, I start my semester as an official teacher tomorrow!!! Will probably write more about that as the semester goes on but you can be sure I will be trying to engage my students using these metaphors and examples from the natural world! Stay tuned!!!


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