new species of insect has been discovered at the Leon Levy Native Plant
Preserve in Governor’s Harbour, The Bahamas National Trust’s (BNT)
first national park on Eleuthera. The insect is a katydid and belongs to
the same group as grasshoppers and crickets in
Specimens of this new species were first collected in 2013 by Dr.
PaulA. De Luca, an assistant professor in the Biology Department at the
University of The Bahamas. He made the discovery while conducting a
survey of arthropods (the animal group
that includes insects, spiders, scorpions,centipedes and crabs) at the
According to Dr. De Luca,“This find - a new species to science -
is a reflection of how much there is still left to learn about insects
in The Bahamas, and it only highlights the incredibly important function
of habitat preservation. Weare definitely
protecting many species that we don’t even know about yet.”
To the layperson, katydids resemble grasshoppers, but are actually more
closely related to crickets. Katydids are well-known for the fact that
males in many species produce acoustic songs to attract females.
Dr. DeLuca’s collaborator on this project is Dr. Glenn Morris, an
emeritus professor from the University of Toronto and an expert in
katydid taxonomy. He determined that the new species belonged in the
genus Erechthisas it closely resembles
gundlachi, a katydid that occurs in Cuba and Hispaniola, but not in The Bahamas.
The new species was named
Erechthis levyi, in honour of Leon
Levy, after whom the Preserve is named. After Leon’s death in 2003, his
wife Shelby White wanted to commemorate her husband’s devotion to
the island and his love of the native flora. She created the Leon Levy
Native Plant Preserve in partnership with The Bahamas National Trust.
It opened to the public in 2011.
The 25-acre Preserve promotes plant conservation and features the
economic, medicinal, historical and agricultural importance of native
plants. It has become an important visitor attraction on Eleuthera. As a
national park, a major part of
it's mission is to protect Bahamian biodiversity, and therefore the
discovery of this new species is a testament to the Preserve’s goal of
documenting the flora and fauna of the island.
There are a number of characteristics that differ between
, but two of the most interesting are physical traits. The first is that
possesses a striking turquoise-coloured head that is lacking in
(see picture). The
second is more difficult to observe with the naked eye.
the tip of the male’s abdomen where the genitalia is found,each
species bears a curious structure – the subgenital plate prong – which
is a device used to remove rival sperm from a female’s genital tract prior to mating with her. The
prong is markedly dissimilar in shape between the two species, which
suggests each one has a different way in which males physically “hook
up”with females during mating.
Future research planned by Dr. De Luca includes mapping the full distribution of
The Bahamas, which at present is only known from specimens collected on
Eleuthera.“What is interesting about this find is that
to occur anywhere else in the Greater Antilles, which suggests it may
be endemic to The Bahamas, making it the first truly Bahamian katydid.”
The scientific article describing the new species can be downloaded atwww.levypreserve.org
The BNT is a non-governmental, non-profit, membership organisation
working to protect Bahamian natural resources by building a network of
national parks and promoting environmental stewardship.