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What's this Bizarre Katydid Parasite in Tambopata?

Aaron Pomerantz

Some of my favorite hikes take place late at night in Tambopata. The rainforest bursts with wildlife activity after things cool down from the scorching hot afternoon. Nonstop mating calls pierce the air from frogs and crickets. Night also happens to be the best time to see weird stuff...


So on to the night hike. I spotted this green leaf katydid, which is a beautiful work of mimicry, but not particularly uncommon or strange (relative to other stuff I see in the Amazon). What was strange, however, was a small organism clinging to the katydid.


It looked like a cream-colored dot on the side of the katydid and upon closer inspection, appeared to be some sort of gravid insect (meaning it looked like it was full of eggs). This seemed unusual, so I took some closer shots hoping to figure out what it was.

After a couple of days, the bizarre insect laid dozens of eggs in a big cluster and then died. The eggs never did hatch, but I'm starting to think that I spared the leaf katydid (or its eggs) from a parasite-filled demise.




I'm still not sure what this is. Some sort of gravid parasitic wasp (or fly?) would be my guess. But I decided to post some pictures on here and ask for help identifying this strange insect. If you have any ideas please leave them in the comments below or drop me a line on Twitter @AaronPomerantz.



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