I’m Piotr Naskrecki, an entomologist who helped find a new katydid species—AMA!
EDIT: Thank you all for participation, it was great to see so many people interested in insects and biodiversity. Cheers!
Hi my name is Piotr Naskrecki and I'm an entomologist, photographer and author, currently at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University (Cambridge, MA.) I received my Ph.D. in Entomology from the University of Connecticut and my research focuses on the evolution of katydids and related insects, and the theory and practice of nature conservation. As a photographer, I promote appreciation and conservation of invertebrate animals—insects, arachnids, and their kin—by capturing both their beauty and roles as vital, often critically important members of the Earth’s ecosystems. I'm also one of the founding members of the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP.)
I am currently doing research at the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Lab in Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique, which is home to some of the biologically richest and geologically most diverse ecosystems on the African continent. We've been collecting data on katydids since the inception of the lab in 2014 and are finally ready to publish our results on a new species: the incredible, big and spiny katydid that belongs to the genus Enyaliopsis.
What makes this species unusual are a few things:
- It's huge! An adult female weights more than 10 grams, which is more than some species of mammals, such as shrews, mice, and bats.
- It has few natural enemies, but if threatened by a larger predator—a bird or a monkey—it employs two lines of defense. First, it arches its back, pointing its hard and sharp spines at the attacker, but if that fails, the insect squirts its own blood into the attacker's eyes.
- The blood (hemolymph) of the katydid is yellow and has a strong, sharp smell, which indicates that it is likely full of toxins.
EDIT: You can get more details about our research here: https://openexplorer.nationalgeographic.com/expedition/gorongosa/view/6003035
And one more thing, we're asking people to help us choose a name for the new species! You can cast your vote here: https://twitter.com/NatGeo/status/1098611952568463365
Ask Me Anything!