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Grasshoppers, Crickets and Katydids: Ancylecha Fenestrata
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Malaysian Leaf Katydid (Ancylecha fenestrata)
By Curtis Lakin
This species is relatively well established in culture, It was formerly known as Onomarchus sp. and was reclassified to Ancylecha fenestrata in 2004 It has the classic form of the tropical Phaneroptinae being a leaf mimic with sickle shaped ovipositor. The original stock was collected by Arnaud Bauduin in 2003 from Tapah Hills Western Malaysia.
Description and life History
This is a medium large species with a body length of up to 70mm and it has beautiful blue eyespots on the forewings of both sexes when adult. Females have a classic sickle shaped ovipositor which becomes noticeable 2 to 3 instars before adulthood is reached. The males do have an audible call song but it is not very noisy, The eggs which resemble melons seeds and are inserted into the leaves of plants between the upper dermis and lower epidermis of the leaf. The nymphs hatch after about 4 months and are thought to be a spider mimic having patches of brown yellow and white with a bulbous abdomen becoming green in later instars. They take about 4 -6 months to mature and as adults live for 6 months or more. The whole life cycle takes about 1 year.
This species is not very difficult compared with keeping some bush cricket species. It is straight forward in its needs yet a very endearing and rewarding creature to rear. I have found that the species tolerates a range of temperatures from room temp (15C) to very warm (28C) but that humidity with reasonable ventilation is important at all times. Regular cleaning out to prevent the growth of moulds is recommended otherwise fatalities will occur.
The species appears to enjoy communal living at all stages without any signs of cannibalism. Having said that, It is not advisable to keep individuals of radically different sizes together. Feeding is straight forward since the katydid will take Hypericum and Ligustrum (privet) leaves as a staple diet item at all stages. It will also eat some fruit and flower petals (particularly compositae) Other foodplants include raspberry, bramble oak, Sumac, Buddleia, Arbutus and Viburnum. Matings are rarely witnessed and the males spermataphore is not readily visible on the female after copulation in this species.
Egg laying occurs in many different plant species but leaves with a reasonable fleshiness are preferred. Eggs are laid singly and best incubated in a humid but ventilated environment. The individual leaves or sprigs can be removed and held over damp substrate, avoiding conditions which encourage mould. A tray of moist peat or vermiculite works well. Sprigs of plant inserted into the substrate may root, and the leaves remain alive, otherwise they will be shed and start to decay. Leaf decay does not affect the eggs when the leaves breakdown so long as conditions for the incubating eggs are not conducive to mould growth.