Subject: Hellish Grasshopper
Location: East Coast NSW, Australia
September 17, 2015 6:21 am
Dearest Mr Bugman,
I am sending you these images of a peculiar insect I discovered in my bathroom tonight. It was just smaller than my palm, and very active. As someone with limited knowledge of insects, I have decided it is a grasshopper/wasp/Satan hybrid.
We caught it in the cup pictured and released it into our backyard. Not sure how it accessed the bathroom as all of our windows and doors are closed. Perhaps he snuck up the drain?
Myself and my father are extremely curious about what this little fella is! Perhaps a locust? Please help us, Bugman!
This is a Long Horned Orthopteran in the suborder Ensifera, a distinctly different group from the Grasshoppers which are also Orthopterans. We suspect this might be a female Weta, a group distinct to Australia and New Zealand, though there are relatives in South Africa and California. Her forward curving ovipositor is very distinctive, and you probably mistook it for a stinger. We will contact Katydid expert Piotr Naskrecki in the hope that he can provide a more conclusive identification.
Thank you so much, Daniel! That’s fascinating – I’ve never heard of them before. I would be intrigued to find out more about this particular one. It certainly gave me a bit of a fright in the bathroom!
Identification Courtesy of Piotr Naskrecki
This is a nymph of Hadrogryllacris sp. (Gryllacrididae), not a weta (there are no true wetas in Australia) but a raspy cricket. The ovipositor is curved over the body in nymphs of raspy crickets to help them move backwards in shelters that they make of rolled up leaves. After the final molt the ovipositor becomes straight.