San Jacinto Shield-Backed Katydid

Cricket-like insect, red and black
Sat, Nov 29, 2008 at 8:18 PM
I saw an insect I’ve never seen before while hiking in the San Jacinto Wilderness near Idyllwild, California. I saw the bug this month (November 2008) at an elevation of around 8000 feet. I saw at least five of them scurrying on boulders and through the grass. They normally crawled, but when startled they could jump several times their body length.

Unidentified Shield-Backed Katydid
Shield-Backed Katydid

The insect’s body strongly resembles a cricket, but I’ve never seen crickets with those colors. Also, all the bugs had their tails pointed up in the air. It looked like they could adjust the angle of their tails.
I’d really like to find out what I saw! Thanks for your help.
Thanks, Dan
San Jacinto Mountains, California

Unidentified Shield-Backed Katydid
Shield-Backed Katydid

Hi Dan,
The best we can do for you is to identify your insect as a Shield-Backed Katydid in the subfamily Tettigoniinae. Earlier in the week, we got another different species from Mt. San Jacinto, and when we requested assistance from Eric Eaton, he wrote back: “Could be yet another new species, lots of katydids still undescribed from California.” Eric was going to request assistance from an expert in the Subfamily, and your submission may also benefit from the expert opinion. Often high elevation species have very limited habitats because they are unable to travel from one mountain peak to another, much like island species are limited by geographic obstacles. We hope, in time, to be able to provide at least a genus name for your distinctive Shield-Backed Katydid.

Unidentified Shield-Backed Katydid
Shield-Backed Katydid

Here is what he had to say about the other two katydid posts….

Sunday, November 30, 2008, 5:25 PM
Hi Eric,
1. I noticed two new posts about katydids at – the first
one is another report of the new genus from California (Ted Cohn was going
to name it Jacintobates), …
2. Decticinae had been synonymized with Tettigoniinae by Dave Rentz, only to
be resurrected as a tribe Decticini by Storozhenko. There is no question
that this group is a monophletic lineage, and it is rather irrelevant
whether it is given a subfamilial or tribal status. I am inclined to call
them a tribe, but they appear as a subfamily in many papers.
Piotr Naskrecki

Update:  December 10, 2017
Thanks to a comment from James Bailey, we are able to provide a link to the San Jacinto Shieldback Katydid, Phymonotus jacintotopos, which is pictured on BugGuide.

1 thought on “San Jacinto Shield-Backed Katydid”

  1. This is Phymonotus jacintotopos, a katydid endemic to the higher areas of San Jacinto. I’m going to look for it this weekend.


Leave a Comment