The Stunning Mimetic Insect Lichen katydid

Meet the Lichen katydid, Markia hystrix, from Central and South America. The Lichen Katydid or Markia hystrix is a recently discovered new genus of the katydid.  Just like all other katydids, it is a master of camouflage. The mimetic insect Lichen katydid exhibits an exceptional mimicry that looks like a lichen.

Katydids comprise a diverse group of insects particularly well adapted to survival in rainforests because of their exceptional camouflage. All Katydid species are masters of camouflage, but the Lichen Katydid excels at camouflage among all other katydids.

Not much is known and studied about this beautiful insect even the Wikipedia page has only two lines written on it. It still remains unclear these katydids are herbivores because a few appeared to be omnivores. These species also have been spotted in Queensland, Australia, and portions of Ecuador and Costa Rica.

Let’s talk about the physical appearance of this insect because it’s very beautiful and distinguished from any other insect. It’s weird but if you are an insect lover then it is a treat for your eyes.

Most katydids are well camouflaged with brown or leaflike green markings. But the Lichen Katydid, Markia hystrix (Orthoptera – Tettigoniidae) is different from them. It resembles the pale greenish-white lichens on which it lives in rainforest treetops.

Not only does the color match the lichens, but the body and legs have a bizarre assortment of spines and points that blend well with lichens. The body of the elaborately colored lichen katydid is varying shades of green and is covered with spiky, thorn-like protrusions or extensions.

These traits help it to blend in with the mossy background of the trees in which it lives, in fact, so well that this insect is extremely difficult for predators to find. Mature adults rarely exceed 1 inch in overall body length, with no discernible sexual dimorphism.

Sadly, the insect faces the threat of extinction, due to the continued devastation of its natural habitat.

Below you can watch the video by talented wildlife photographer David Weiller who has captured absolutely stunning footage of a beautiful lichen katydid as it delicately walked along the branch of a tree covered in the distinctive white filamentous lichen for which the graceful insect was named.  If the insect hadn’t moved, it would be hard to tell where the plant begins and the insect ends.

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