These absolutely beautiful insects are GIANT HOODED KATYDIDS known as Siliquofera grandis. They are one of the largest katydid (bush cricket) species on the planet and a very impressive size indeed! In the wild they are most commonly found in Papua New Guinea along with some of the smaller Indonesian islands, where they live in the canopy of the rainforest.

Siliquofera grandis
Siliquofera grandis male

As you can see here, these amazing insects have the most remarkable ability to camouflage themselves amongst the leaves of the rainforest canopy.

Siliquofera grandis male

I absolutely love the faces of these insects! They are strictly herbivorous, feeding on the same leaves within which they hide in the rainforest canopy, but they do have very impressive mouthparts capable of inflicting an uncomfortable bite if they feel threatened or provoked. They can also jump and even fly short distances with their very impressive wings! 

Siliquofera grandis close-up

Females are larger than males and can weigh in excess of 30g. An adult female can produce more than 400 ova (eggs) in her lifetime, which she lays via a long spike-shaped ovipositor at the end of her abdomen. These ova look a bit like squashed sunflower seeds as you can see here! 

Siliquofera grandis ova

These ova hatch within a couple of months into tiny wingless nymphs which, in my experience, are exceptional jumpers! Here a couple of small nymphs (which took a great deal of patience to photograph!):

Siliquofera grandis nymph
Siliquofera grandis nymph

Possibly the most astonishing thing about these insects is their growth rate. When they hatch they weigh in at just 0.1g but grow to their full size in less than three months, which for males is around 15g but for females can be more than 30g! It is a truly incredible rate of growth for any living thing. Below is a ten-week old subadult female nymph, showing her very impressive but not yet full-size ovipositor. It is easier to show this on a subadult because as soon as they mature they have full wings which make the ovipositor quite hard to see! 

Siliquofera grandis large female nymph showing ovipositor

Like all insects (and indeed all arthropods) a katydid has to moult or remove its exoskeleton multiple times during its development. Sadly I have never yet caught one of mine in the act of doing so but here is the empty exoskeleton (or exuvia) of one of my larger nymphs, which I found on the surface of the substrate of their enclosure! Always amazing to see.

Siliquofera grandis empty exoskeleton

One final remarkable thing about this species, and about katydids in general, is that they have ears built into their front legs! These ears are located just below the front knees and are a shallow hole containing a simple tympanum (a lot like our human eardrum). The  male of the species makes a distinctive sound to attract females, and it is through these ears that the female is able to detect not only the sound, but the direction from which the sound originates. If the sound is coming from in front of the female the sound will be louder to her, whereas if the sound is quieter she will turn around to detect the position at which it is at its loudest in an attempt to locate the male making the sound. Absolutely astonishing! The picture below shows the position of these ears: 

Close-up of katydid ears