Cederberg Cave Katydid

Cederberg Cave Katydid

Observation - Cederberg Cave Katydid - Southern Africa. Description: Someone in our party had stumbled up these huge 'cave crickets' on an earlier trip, and took us to see them. I was expecting a cricket, and was delighted to instead see huge Katydids. This female was 60mm with her ovipositor and with her long legs spread

Someone in our party had stumbled upon these huge 'cave crickets' on an earlier trip, and took us to see them. I was expecting a cricket, and was delighted to instead see huge katydids. This female was 60mm with her ovipositor. With her long legs spread out, was 150mm, her antennae as long again. They move quietly in the dark chambers made by a water course passing through boulders.
Getting home and looking it up I was happy to see that they were described by Piotr Naskrecki. He says they aren't predatory but move out of the caves at night and eat plants. These are the only known cave-dwelling katydids, from his blog:
"they are highly gregarious, often found in clusters of 20-30 individuals of various ages. The caves they prefer are cold, maintaining the chilly temperature of 12°C (54°F) throughout the year. Their habitat cannot be occupied by bats or hyraxes, which probably quickly do away with the tasty, surprisingly very slow-moving insects, thus limiting the number of available caves (interestingly, when exposed to higher temperatures they become phenomenal jumpers)."