|A bush cricket or katydid|
|Superfamilies and families|
Ensifera is a suborder of insects that includes the various types of crickets and their allies including: true crickets, camel crickets, bush crickets or katydids, grigs, wetas and Cooloola monsters. It and the suborder Caelifera (grasshoppers and their allies) make up the order Orthoptera. Ensifera is believed to be a more ancient group than Caelifera, with its origins in the Carboniferous period, the split having occurred at the end of the Permian period. Unlike the Caelifera, the Ensifera contain numerous members that are partially carnivorous, feeding on other insects as well as plants.
Characteristics shared by the two orthopteran suborders, Caelifera and Ensifera, are the mouthparts adapted for biting and chewing, the modified prothorax, the hind legs modified for jumping, the wing shape and venation and the sound-producing stridulatory organs.
Ensiferans are distinguished from Caeliferans by their elongated, threadlike antennae, which are often longer than the length of their body and have over thirty segments (except in the subterranean Cooloolidae family). In the families in which the males sing, the forewings have modifications which include toothed veins and scrapers for making the noise, and the surrounding membranous areas amplify the sound. In these groups, the sound-detecting tympanal organs are located on the tibiae of the front legs. The tarsi have three segments and the ovipositor is blade-like or needle-like. The male attaches the spermatophore externally to the female's gonopore. The spermatophore is often surrounded by a proteinaceous spermatophylax, the function of which is to provide a nutritional nuptial gift to the female.
The Orthoptera Species File database lists the following superfamilies and families.
The phylogenetic relationships of the Ensifera, summarized by Darryl Gwynne in 1995 from his own work and that of earlier authors,[a] are shown in the following cladogram, with the Orthoptera divided into two main groups, Ensifera and Caelifera (grasshoppers). Fossil Ensifera are found from the late Carboniferous period onwards.
The oldest known fossil in the Archaeorthoptera, the crown group of the Orthoptera, and also the oldest member of the Pterygota (winged insects), is from the Namurian (324 mya) Lower Carboniferous beds in the Upper Silesian Basin of the Czech Republic.