Subject: What’s this bug?
Location: Western Cape, South Africa
December 15, 2014 8:18 am
We saw this crazy bug while hiking in the dunes of the Western Cape National Park in South Africa in December. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a good photo indicating scale, however, in it’s entirety, it was approximately the size of an average man’s palm (about 3 inches across.) It also had “wings”, black in color and round in shape, positioned under it’s legs which seems to vibrate when we got near, making a loud “buzzing” sound which was what caught my attention. The colors were vibrant and it was a little intimidating! Our friends that lived in the area said they had never seen such a thing! Any ideas? Curious minds want to know! Thank you!
Ed. Note: The identical image was sent with this request
Subject: Funky critter in South Africa
Location: the Dunes in West Coast National Park Langebaan-Western-Cape-South-Africa
December 15, 2014 2:00 pm
This is an unusual spider located on the Dunes in West Coast National Park Langebaan-Western-Cape-South-Africa
Trying to determine what the species actually is? hopefully you can answer our query.
Signature: Mrs. Lauri Brownson
Because this Orthopteran is on its back with its belly in the air, we are going to have a very difficult time identifying it. We can tell you it is a Longhorned Orthopteran in the suborder Ensifera, and that it is most likely a King Cricket in the subfamily Hetrodinae. We are leaning toward the genus Acanthoplus, and you can see a brightly colored individual here on iSpot as well as here on iSpot. King Crickets are also known as Corn Crickets.
Dear Mrs. Lauri Brownson,
We received the identical image from Jenny. We are enclosing the reply we sent her.
Interesting creature to say the least! thank you for your time! and speed!
Location: West Coast, South Africa
December 17, 2014 3:05 am
Thank you for taking the time to look at the photo I submitted yesterday for identification. I was having trouble finding a confirmation on it;s i.d., so I contacted the University of Cape Town, South Africa, as this is the region in which we sighted the gorgeous insect. Associate Professor of Biological Sciences and co-author of the “Field Guide to Insects of South Africa”, Mike Picker offered this info regarding the photo:
“This was an unusual sighting, in that these carnivorous grasshoppers are rarely seen, except at night when they emerge from the dense bushes in which they hide during the day. They are fairly common along the west coast all the way to Namibia, with adults maturing in summer. They are katydids (Tettigoniidae), Hemiclonia melanoptera (Short-winged predatory katydid). The wings seem to be used as a warning signal (the buzzing that you describe) although I have not seen this. There are four related species in the genus, and other winged species in the summer rainfall part of the region. All can deliver a severe bite (have massive black toothed mandibles) – so you did the right thing by not picking it up!”
With his permission, I thought I’d share this with you and your staff to help with future identifications!
Thanks again for your time!
Signature: Kind Regards, Jenny Haldiman
Thanks for that update Jenny. We searched that name and we found this posting listed under the genus Clonia on iSpot. There is also an image on Zandvlei Turst Insects and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility indicates that Clonia and Hemiclonia are synonyms. ISpot also has this fine image.