Weeks of cloudy, humid weather. Skies overcast and dark, leaving the world in constant shadow. Rain and drizzle and fog rendering the earthen canvas in wet hues.
Yet I knew something was different, was amiss. I heard it late one evening: a tic-tic-tic-tic-tic sounding from the bushes. Too dark for me to see and being adverse to glaring artificial light, I grabbed the camera and used it to pull out details my eyes could not discern as anything more than one layer of dark against another.
Clinging to a leaf dripping and half eaten, I saw him hanging with head down. But it was too dark to discover his identity, though his clarion call announced his gender. Nevertheless, I would have to wait for daylight to get a better look at my new visitor.
Early the next morning I stepped out to the patio with camera in hand. Clouds heavy with moisture kept the world dim, light but a memory, and everything was wet. Finding a well-camouflaged critter under such circumstances would not be easy. And it seemed he wasn’t singing this time. Still, it didn’t take long for me to find what I was looking for.
Wait! This was not the same katydid I found the previous night. Perhaps the same species, yes, but certainly not the same gender. This was a female.
So the game was afoot. Perhaps the photinias hosted a bit of katydid hanky-panky. And certainly the shrubs hosted more than one of these large insects.
Finding the male proved impossible in the dim morning. Though I knew we would see no sunshine during the rest of the day, I still had to wait for a bit more light before continuing my search for him.
Some time later I tried again. Unfortunately, the female had moved—but she hadn’t moved far.
She sat atop a leaf on a branch not too distant from where I’d seen her earlier. Beneath the canopy from a nearby branch, she stood motionless in shadows that cloaked her position and made her nothing more interesting than just another leaf.
A sudden bit of movement near the top of the bush caught my attention.
It was the male.
So the two were sharing a place. I suspected this meant the female was pregnant…or soon would be.
Now three days after I first discovered them, both remain in the same photinia bush. Both also remain hidden to all but the astute observer.
Yesterday as landscapers worked about the area, I kindly asked them to make a wide detour around this section of the shrubbery. They looked at me as though my head had split open and a UFO had flown out of it. I smiled and accepted the unspoken title of “Crazy man!” even as I insisted they do no work in that area.
What possesses me so with wildlife such that I become so protective of it, even in cases with something as simple as a few katydids in the bushes? Whatever the cause, I hope I never lose it.
Part of me feels certain I have witnessed the last waltz of this pair before they hand the dance floor over to the next generation.
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 All photos of lesser angle-winged katydids (a.k.a. angular-winged katydid; Microcentrum retinerve).
 Nearly identical to the greater angle-wing katydid (a.k.a. broad-winged katydid; Microcentrum rhombifolium), telling the difference relies mostly on one tiny clue hidden on the pronotum. Size also helps, though that’s not really a good tool unless you have both of them side by side to compare. Likewise, some color variation occurs between the two species, but as we all know, natural color variation within a single insect species can be vast, so relying on the absence or presence of a single hue to differentiate these two species is akin to relying on sunshine to always mean it’s warm outside.
 This species belongs to the “false katydid” group of katydids. It’s a real katydid, though. Confused? “True katydids” get their title due to the sounds they make; likewise, false katydids get their title from the sounds they make. With true katydids, both males and females can make noise, though males appear to have more robust and varied calls; with false katydids, only males seem to make noise, and the call is a variation of a tic-tic-tic-tic-tic sound. To put it in simpler terms, true katydids are better singers than false katydids, though both are still real katydids.