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Mediterranean Katydid (Phaneroptera nana)

Remarks: In 1952, on the basis of specimens in the University of California collection, H. F. Strohecker (1952b) reported that Phaneroptera nana, a European species, was established in the Bay Area of California. Collection dates ranged from 1932 to 1943. Jeff Cole, a biology student at UCLA, recently reported the species from the Los Angeles area and sent voucher specimens to the Florida State Collection of Arthropods. Here is his account:

In 1999, Joseph Ramirez showed me a phaneropterine katydid from Hollywood, California, that I did not recognize. On 22 Sep1999, Joseph and I visited the Raleigh Studios building on Melrose Avenue, where he had collected the specimen. Individuals were quite common on the surface of a privet hedge surrounding the perimeter of the building, and we collected two males and three females. Neither of us had any success identifying the species until 2001, when Joseph found a picture of the Asian species Phaneroptera brevis in Grasshoppers and Mantids of the World and noted the striking likeness of the two species. This suggested that we were dealing with a recently introduced species. On 12 Oct 2001, Pierre Plauzoles sent me a digital image of a female he had found in the garden of his residence in Hollywood, believing it to be a species of Scudderia or Insara. He had come to this conclusion by consulting SINA, so I too visited the web site and was surprised to find that Phaneroptera nana, a species native to the Mediterranean region, was listed from the San Francisco Bay Area in California. On 14 Oct 2001, I returned to the Raleigh Studios site to collect more specimens and to make observations. I observed that rather than being associated with the privet itself, as it appeared during my first visit, the katydids were concentrated on a climbing shrub growing on the surface of the privet. Susan Cole later identified this plant as Plumbago auriculatus. I located most of the ten individuals I collected by their sounds, and one individual I homed on proved to be a female. I have read that the females of some species of phaneropterine katydids produce sound in response to male calls, and subsequently learned that P. nana is indeed a duetting species (Tauber & Pener 2000). Although the first records of this species in the Los Angeles area were from Hollywood, I have heard and seen P. nana in numerous other parts of the city. These observations range from as far west as Venice Beach, to as far south as Irvine, 43 road miles south of Hollywood. These observations, coupled with the fact that plumbago is a common landscaping shrub, suggest that Phaneroptera nana may have a widespread occurrence in the Los Angeles basin. [submitted by Jeff Cole, 27 Dec 2001]

References: Helfert & Saenger 1990, Strohecker 1952b, Tauber & Pener 2000.

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© Thomas J. Walker

Source: Singing Insects of North America

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