By PATRICIA SIMPSON
While visiting with a friend in Point Loma, I spotted a very well camouflaged little beast on a dried-up branch. As usual, I snapped a photo and posted it on iNaturalist. Before long, experts weighed in and declared it a Least Katydid (Brachyinsara hemiptera).
One of the identifiers, James Bailey (aka silversea_starsong), decided to make a special trip to San Diego with katydid expert Jeffrey Cole. Both had been trying to track down this rare species for some time. Little is known about the Least Katydid, its true range and even its song.
Katydids are to grasshoppers what moths are to butterflies — a nocturnal cousin. Just like grasshoppers, katydids have specific songs they produce through stridulation (rubbing one body part against another). Katydids use their wings while grasshoppers use their hind legs.
James and Jefferey decided to head to Mission Trails Regional Park and were successful in finding a few Least Katydids, one of which can be seen here at www.inaturalist.org/observations/59068724, once again proving that our beloved park is a great refuge to many treasured and rare species.
Observations made in the park and posted on iNaturalist can be a great way for nature enthusiasts like you and me to help scientists find populations of understudied animals or plants. Some observations sometimes lead to great discoveries. So don’t forget to snap a few shots with your camera or cell phone next time you visit our trails. You never know what you might find!
And while the Least Katydid is not easy to find, you may be familiar with another, more common katydid that roams your neighborhood, the Scudder’s Bush Katydid (genus Scudderia) (www.inaturalist.org/observations/2347960). This large green insect is often spotted on a variety of plants and has adapted well to urban gardens.
— Patricia Simpson is a trail guide at MissioN trails Regional Park.