Rare Pink Insect is the Real Deal at the Ohio State Fair

Pink Insect is the Real Deal at the Ohio State Fair
Rare katydid discovered at Killdeer Plains State Wildlife Area.

A Rare Pink Katydid
A Rare Pink Katydid
Ohio Department Natural Resources
Ohio Department Natural Resources

COLUMBUS, OH – -(AmmoLand.com)- The recent find of a bubble-gum pink katydid at Killdeer Plains State Wildlife Area in Wyandot County is so rare that it is cause for real excitement, say wildlife experts at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Wildlife.

Visitors to the Natural Resources Park at the Ohio State Fair will have a chance to view this pink phenomenon in person. The ODNR Division of Wildlife will feature the pink katydid within the wildlife area of the park, which is in the southeast corner of the fairgrounds along 11th Avenue.

“Getting a glimpse of this pink katydid may be a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said David M. Graham, chief of the Division of Wildlife. “This phenomenon is one example of the dynamic impact wildlife can have on our everyday lives.”

This colorful little katydid was discovered by Jan Kennedy in a prairie remnant at Killdeer Plains during an Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist Workshop. The discovery most likely extends the lifespan of this truly rare creature as the lack of protective coloring often leaves such animal anomalies more vulnerable to predation.

Killdeer Plains encompasses nearly 9,300 acres in northwest Ohio. Surrounded by agricultural lands, it represents the largest wet prairie managed by the Division of Wildlife. Birders from across the state and elsewhere journey here to see impressive concentrations of wintering raptors and the large migrations of waterfowl.

Experts say the pink insect is part of the bush katydid family, but as it has yet to mature, they aren't exactly sure which species.

“It could be one of two species of bush katydid. These insects molt several times before attaining their final appearance,” said Wil Hershberger of West Virginia and an expert on singing insects known as Orthoptera.

The katydid is definitely a female. This is known not because of her coloration, but because of the ovipositor seen at the end of her abdomen. This distinctive body part is used to deposit eggs into plant tissue.

“At a minimum, this color mutation occurs once in every 100,000 or more of these false katydids,” said Hershberger. He said that over the course of several decades and inestimable hours in the field studying these insects that he's never come across a pink katydid.

According to Hershberger, very little is known about why such color mutations occur. “We know they can appear as blue, yellow, and pink, but there's a real dearth of information available to understand why this happens.”

Katydids are part of an order of insects known as Orthoptera, which includes grasshoppers, crickets and locusts. These are the insects known for singing the sonorous nighttime choruses heard throughout Ohio in late summer and early fall. They make their music by rubbing their wings or legs against each other, which have rows of corrugated bumps.

“Fossil records clearly show that Orthoptera first appeared 360 million years ago,” said Hershberger. “She (the katydid) is part of this ancient order of insects that created earth's first songs, and those same songs are still being heard today.”

He noted that without large tracts of protected lands such as Killdeer Plains that the songs of nature would eventually die out.

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The Ohio Department of Natural Resources ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR web site at www.ohiodnr.com.