ID Challenge #2

Here is another straight-up ID Challenge. Standard rules apply:

  • Points awarded for correctly naming the order, family, genus, and species (2 pts each).
  • Bonus points may be given (at my discretion) for providing additional relevant information (e.g., diagnostic characters, biological/ecological uniquities, clever jokes, etc.).¹
  • Comments will be moderated during the 1- to 2-day open challenge period to allow all a chance to participate (you don’t have to be first to win!).
  • Submitted answers will be posted at the end of the challenge period along with the number of points earned.

¹ Don’t ignore the opportunity for bonus points – they often determine the winner in these challenges!

Good luck!

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2011

About Ted C. MacRae

Ted C. MacRae is a research entomologist by vocation and beetle taxonomist by avocation. Areas of expertise in the latter include worldwide jewel beetles (Buprestidae) and North American longhorned beetles (Cerambycidae). More recent work has focused on North American tiger beetles (Cicindelidae) and their distribution, ecology, and conservation.
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34 Responses to ID Challenge #2

  1. Obviously orthopteran, antennae look wrong for an acridid, so I’m going to guess that it belongs to the Stenopelmatoidea. Looks more like a gryllacridid than a stenopelmatid, but that’s as far as I can go. Of course, if you want to see good stenopelmatoids you have to come to this part of the world. New Zealand has the largest, about the size of an American robin, I believe. And one particularly spiky South African species has apparently earned itself the name of ‘Parktown prawn’ from its predilection for wandering into swimming pools in a particular wealthy Johannesburg suburb.

    • Stenopelmatoidea is a good guess based on gestalt, but it’s actually a bizarre North American member of the family Tettigoniidae.

      Perhaps of interest, I did feature a South African stenopelmatoid in a quiz last year – Onosandridus sp. (family Anostostomatidae).

      3 pts (2 pts for the order and a bonus point for a good guess in the right suborder).

  2. Francis says:

    Look like a grasshopper😀 (Melanoplus)?????
    Am trying.

  3. tim eisele says:

    Well, I’ve never actually seen one show its mandibles like that, so maybe I’m being taken in by a bit of mimicry, but I’ll go with Orthoptera for the order. And then stick my neck out by suggesting it is one of the short-horned grasshoppers (Acrididae) for the family.

    Other than that, you’ve got me.

  4. Mark Deering says:

    Perhaps an acridid grasshopper in the Locustae

    • “Locustae”? I don’t think I’ve ever heard this term used for the order Orthoptera.

      At any rate not a grasshopper, but I’ll give you a bonus point for guessing something in the right order.

  5. Alex/Watcher says:

    OK I’m only responding because as luck would have it I’m first to do so and I think I can get the order: Orthoptera. I’ll take a guess on the family- Rhaphidophoridae, not because I recognize any characters, but because it looks vaguely cave cricket-ish. I’m pretty sure I shook something like this out of a shoe one morning on a desert backpack…

  6. As a reminder, these challenges are not “winner takes all” – comments are held for moderation during the open challenge period (there are a number being held in queue right now!), so you don’t have to be first with a correct answer to earn points. Also, points are being tallied over a period of several challenges, so there will be cumulative points winners – don’t pass on the opportunity to earn 2 points here or 1 point there because you can’t get a complete ID.

    Onward!

  7. Ben Coulter says:

    Orthoptera, Tettigoniidae, Pterophylla camellifolia.

    I think this is a specimen that is discolored from preservation chemicals. Those formidible mandibles are reason enough to be cautious when catching katydids with bare hands. They can draw blood if you’re too complacent!

    • Ben Coulter says:

      After looking at the head structure a bit more, I’m now thinking this is a species of Neobarrettia, maybe spinosa. Arid-land katydids are predatory on other insects and have really cool threat displays.

    • First person to get the right family (4 pts), but not Pterophylla camellifolia. If you think that species can draw blood, this one is a killer!

  8. James C. Trager says:

    Orthoptera Tettigoniidae Orchelimum
    And now comes the hard part, but I’m going to say O. vulgare.
    This critter is mostly green in life, but faded to sordid yellow apfter pinning. Nonetheless, its lifelike threat pose imposes!
    These are said to be omnivorous, but they certainly don’t shy away from predation. I once saw one of these use those formidable mandibles to catch and munch a caterpillar.

    • Another correct guess down to family level (4 pts), but not Orchelimum either. You are right, however, about the green-in-life coloration fading to yellow after pinning (1 bonus pt), and predation is very much a feature of this species.

      5 pts total.

  9. Okay, I’m gonna let this run through today – there have been lots of submissions (lots!), but nobody’s quite figured this thing out.

  10. Dave says:

    I’ll do almost anything to put off shoveling snow on a weekend, even staring at scary looking orthopteran faces in hopes of jogging loose a memory / nighmare. I thought it must be some kind of king cricket (small eyes seem appropriate for a nocturnal animal), but if Ted got it from North America, then the head doesn’t seem bulbous enough for a likely contender like the Jerusalem cricket. Besides, the coloration looks like it was once green or at least partly green and I’d expect more prominent palps.

    I think I’ll punt for a spiny bush katydid (Neobarrettia spinosa) – the eyes, clypeus, shape of the head, and how I’m interpreting its colour in life are all consistent and I know how Ted likes to scan back to reveal the monster in waiting, and a bush katydid would make a nice pan-back. An old orthopterophillic friend, David Lightfoot, once showed me some spiny bush katydids on a warm New Mexico night – and even if I am wrong, it was worth it for the memories (and putting off the shoveling):

    Order Orthoptera
    Suborder Ensifera
    Family Tettigoniidae
    Subfamily Listroscelidinae
    Neobarrettia spinosa

    • The Mite Master scores a correct ID on the first try. That’s worth 8 pts, and I’m going to give you 4 bonus pts for:
      – full disclosure on deductive reasoning
      – complete higher classification
      – waxing nostalgic
      – Pan-back predition (true)
      Unfortunately, I also have to deduct 1 pt for binomen non-italicization😛, so your total is 11 pts.

  11. TGIQ says:

    This is not an easy one, Ted!

    Order: Orthoptera
    Family: Tettigoniidae

    I’m basing the Family guess on what appears to be very slender and many-segmented antennae, the relatively small, roundish, high-set eyes. It seems to have a pretty flat face so I would likely rule out cone-headed and even meadow grashoppers.

    A good many katydis are green, this one is not. Tettigoniinae (shield-backed katydid) tend to be brown or darker-coloured, so I’ll go with that.

    I desperately want to do something useful with the thorax…and what appears to be rather prominent (maybe pronotal spines?) coxal spines….but those can vary.

    Since the mandibles (crazy!) are prominent in the photo, I have to assume they’re important for the ID. They’re definitely large, heavily scleortized and have sharp, well-defined dentes and incisors; this might indicate carnivory or a partially carnivorous diet. I found a paper by S.K. Gangware (Annals of the Entomological Society of America, Jan. 1967) that describes carnivory/cannibalism in the Eastern Shieldbacks, and in particular Atlanticus testaceus. The geographic range is about right, as is the colouration (noting that this changes in death) and it’s got a prominant coxal spine.

    I’ll go with that.

    I guess that’s about all I’m good for on this one.

    • TGIQ says:

      D’oh! I see you’ve gone live with the comments as I worked on mine, and that I was wrong. Oh well. It was fun anyways!

      • You still get credit! Thank Statcounter!

        • TGIQ says:

          Thank you stat counter!!! (I worked hard on this one!…and I had the spiny guy on my shortlist of candidates…he was #1 for a bit but I talked myself out of it…d’oh x 2!)

          • Too bad!🙂 I hope it wasn’t the non-green color that let you talk yourself out of it (or if it was, you’ve now noted in your notes that Ted can and will use dead, preserved specimens in these challenges).

            • Anonymous says:

              I knew it was dead, but haven’t played with enough pinned Orthopterans to be familiar with the colour changes that occur after death; I was having a hard time with green=dull brown…I ended up rationalizing that dark brown=dull brown. Although the reddish tint remaining in the eyes nagged at me. I should know better and stick with my gut feeling next time!
              (But yes, this note is now noted in my notes :-P)

    • Statcounter logs show that you had begun constructing your comment well before the other comments were approved, so I’ll give you the 4 pts credit for the order and family. A big time bonus pt also for mentioning the mandibular design for carnivory. That gives you 5 pts for this challenge and 13 pts total, keeping you in 3rd place in the overall standings. I’ll edit the new post accordingly.

  12. Carl says:

    I’ll go with şişli böcek ilaçlama comment – IT’S A BUG – LOL –

    You know I am probably out of place on this site. Yes I was a high school science teacher, but I was better at the areas relating to molecular biology, biophysics and biochemistry. Back then I could do a Krebs cycle in my sleep. Genetics, evolution and human physiology were all fun.

    The order, family, genus stuff I just hurried past. So I am going to stop before I put my foot in mouth

    ITS A BUG !!!

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