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Armored katydids

Armored katydids (Enyaliopsis petersi) are large, robust insects that look scary, but are completely harmless. Despite their bulky, spiny appearance they are close relatives of green katydids that often come to lights at night around the camp in Gorongosa.

 

In the insect world, they are equivalent to rhinos – slow, peaceful grazers, who defend themselves only if provoked. Armored katydids feed on the leaves and flowers of many plants. They can’t fly, but they have tiny wings, completely hidden under the spiky shield behind their heads. These are used to produce long, chirping songs that you may be able to hear on a peaceful Gorongosa night. 

 

Armored katydids don’t bite, so you can safely hold them in your hand. Their only defense is the spines on their body, which make it difficult for birds and other predators to swallow them. They may also exude yellow droplets of their own blood if frightened. It has a bitter taste, which may convince some predators to drop them.