Subject:  biggest insect I’ve ever seen…
Geographic location of the bug:  Sun Kosi river, SE Nepal
Date: 10/27/2017
Time: 12:31 PM EDT
We found this huge insect on a beach on the Sun Kosi river, 7th October. It was about the size of  a child’s hand, with very long antennae. After running around our feet for a while it buried itself in the sand.
Any idea what it is? Sorry the pictures aren’t great but it was dark and raining!
thanks,
How you want your letter signed:  Gareth

Dune Cricket

Dear Gareth,
This is some species of Longhorned Orthopteran in the suborder Ensifera, but we are not certain of its classification beyond that generality.  We suspect this is some species of ground Katydid, possibly a Shieldbacked Katydid.  We know we have something similar looking in our archives, but we are unable to locate it.  We will contact Katydid expert Piotr Naskrecki to see if he can provide a more specific identification.

Piotr Naskrecki Responds
What a beautiful creature. This is Schizodactylus, a member of the ancient family Schizodactylidae, with members in NE Asia and Southern Africa. Its hind wings are always curled like this, which probably helps them move backwards in their underground burrows.
Cheers,
Piotr

With that information, we were able to find this image of Schizodactylus monstrosu on Orthoptera Species File that looks very similar.  iNaturalist refers to family members as Dune Crickets.

Hi Daniel
That must be it – the face, the feet, and the curled-up shape at its back all look the same.
Thanks for your help tracking it down!
Gareth

Location: Sun Kosi River, Nepal

2 Responses to Dune Cricket from Nepal

  1. Jim Harrison says:

    Sometimes the scientific names of these creatures make me take a second look at the pictures and notice something I missed the first time. Schizodactylus means split fingered and if you look at the feet of this animal you can see why the name was chosen. (My knowledge of Greek and Latin isn’t anything to write home about, but I’ve got a brick of a paperback, Composition of Scientific Words, by Roland Wilbur Brown, that makes it easy to find out what the scientific names mean.)

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