This big, beautifully colored insect resembles a giant grasshopper but it is actually a Vestria katydid that makes its home in the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador. Colored with gorgeous shades of blue, yellow, and green, he has most of the colors in the rainbow. He even has bright orange feet that make him look as if he is wearing socks and mittens. These gorgeous little animals are often referred to as rainbow katydids. He makes his home high in the canopy, nearly 150 feet (50m) above the forest floor. Although they inhabit the forest at all levels, they are often found high in the trees. This beautiful creature was found by a group of Canadian tourists who were on a guided tour of the jungle. They were taken on a canoe ride, followed by a long hike that led them to a giant kapoc tree. Kapoc trees are enormous trees that tower over all other vegetation in the rain forest. They have wide trunks with giant bases and a massive root system to hold them in place, even in fierce storms. Life in the Amazon thrives around, an on these majestic trees. Plants such as ferns, mosses and beautifully colored flowers grow on the branches and in the crooks along the trunks. These plants are host to a very diverse collection of birds, insects and other animals as they provide food and nesting areas as well as shelter. The kapoc tree is regarded by local inhabitants as the grandfather of the forest. This katydid is one of the many creatures that live on this tree. There is more than enough vegetation to provide his food and his shelter. While katydids are omnivores, they generally prefer plants for most of their diet. But the Vestria katydid is an exception. It hunts and eats other insects for its main source of food. He will also be able to find all of the moisture he needs in the mosses and in the cracks of the tree. He may live his entire life without ever leaving this kapoc. The colors on this little fellow are no accident or coincidence. Nature is complex and almost everything about the animal kingdom has a purpose, even if we don’t understand it. The bright colors are a signal to predators, such as monkeys, birds, lizards, and spiders, that the katydid is foul tasting and may be toxic. One of the defenses of this katydid is the ability to emit a chemical called pyrazine. This chemical is excreted from scent glands and it is another signal to predators that the katydid cannot be eaten. Tourists are able to reach the top of the kapoc tree, where this katydid lives, by climbing a steel staircase that was constructed beside the tree and is carefully strapped onto the tree so that it will not cause any damage. The world at the top of the canopy is fascinating enough that tourists spend hours on the small platform, learning from their guides all about the wonders of the forest and the creatures that inhabit it. And if that were not interesting enough, the spectacular view of the rain forest from above certainly is.