Eye-catching katydid is 1-in-500 discovery for nature enthusiast
She's pink, personable and a smash-hit summer singer. She's Pinky the katydid.
"I was floored! I couldn't believe it!" said Jim McCormac of the Ohio Division of Wildlife. "This is pink as pink can be."
Jan Kennedy of Mansfield found the pink katydid while walking through the Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area in Wyandot County on Sunday.
"It was like finding a new toy," said Kennedy, who chose the Pinky name. "To me, it's a total treasure hunt."
Kennedy and friend Cheryl Harner of Crestline were participating in an Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalists workshop. The women aren't experts, but they are nature enthusiasts.
"It's kind of like finding a pink elephant," Harner said. "Something like this fills even the most jaded person with a sense of wonder."
Harner is keeping the katydid in a terrarium. It will be returned to the wild on a date yet to be picked.
McCormac, who was also at the workshop, said photos of Pinky have "gone viral" since he posted them on his blog and his Facebook page.
Bubblegum-pink katydids are rare: one in about 500.
Katydids also come in blue, yellow and -- most commonly -- green, said Wil Hershberger, a West Virginia nature photographer and the author of The Songs of Insects.
The green ones mimic leaves, but the pink ones stand out and make easy pickings for predators, Hershberger said. "Birds would take that out in a hurry."
The katydid gets its name from its song, said Dave Horn, a retired professor of entomology at Ohio State University. It sounds as if it's saying "katy-did-katy-did-katy-did."
The pink color is brilliant, Horn noted. "You know the girls in Grease? The pink ladies? The girl who dyes her hair? It's like that."
The color could allow the bug to hide in flowers, Horn said.
McCormac, an avian-education specialist, said he heard that the color might be so shocking to birds that they won't eat it.
He'll take Pinky to the Midwest Native Plant Conference at the Hope Hotel and Conference Center in Dayton on Saturday.
Hershberger sees the bug as an opportunity to showcase the importance of conservation. As habitats disappear, so do cute, pink katydids.