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J Insect Physiol. 2012 Jan;58(1):116-24. doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2011.10.006. Epub 2011 Oct 29.

Reverse stridulatory wing motion produces highly resonant calls in a neotropical katydid (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae: Pseudophyllinae).

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School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Woodland Road, Bristol, BS8 1UG, UK.


This paper describes the biomechanics of an unusual form of wing stridulation in katydids, termed here 'reverse stridulation'. Male crickets and katydids produced sound to attract females by rubbing their forewings together. One of the wings bears a vein ventrally modified with teeth (a file), while the other harbours a scraper on its anal edge. The wings open and close in rhythmic cycles, but sound is usually produced during the closing phase as the scraper moves along the file. Scraper-tooth strikes create vibrations that are subsequently amplified by wing cells specialised in sound radiation. The sound produced is either resonant (pure tone) or non-resonant (broadband); these two forms vary across species, but resonant requires complex wing mechanics. Using a sensitive optical diode and high-speed video to examine wing motion, and Laser Doppler Vibrometry (LDV) to study wing resonances, I describe the mechanics of stridulation used by males of the neotropical katydid Ischnomela gracilis (Pseudophyllinae). Males sing with a pure tone at ca.15 kHz and, in contrast to most Ensifera using wing stridulation, produce sound during the opening phase of the wings. The stridulatory file exhibits evident adaptations for such reverse scraper motion. LDV recordings show that the wing cells resonate sharply at ca. 15 kHz. Recordings of wing motion suggest that during the opening phase, the scraper strikes nearly 15,000 teeth/s. Therefore, the song of this species is produced by resonance. The implications of such adaptations (reverse motion, file morphology, and wing resonance) are discussed.

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