Photo credit: brendanboyd CC BY 4.0



“Threatened” means the species lives in the wild in Ontario, is not endangered, but is likely to become endangered if steps are not taken to address factors threatening it.

Date added to the Species at Risk in Ontario List

January 25, 2023

Read the assessment report (PDF)

What it looks like

Davis’s Shieldback is a large flightless katydid or bush cricket, about 20 to 25 mm in length. This species is grey-brown with some dark and pale mottling (spots or smears of colour). Its wings are reduced and partially hidden beneath the pronotum, a shield-like plate on the top and sides of the thorax (the area between the neck and the body).

Males have short, leathery forewings that extend a short distance beyond the pronotum and two short projections at the end of the abdomen called cerci. Females of the species have their wings entirely covered by the pronotum and a long, sword-like ovipositor (a tubular organ through which females deposit eggs) that extends out behind the abdomen.

Where it lives

Davis’s Shieldbacks live in oak woodland, oak savannah and sand barren sites with well-drained dry, sandy soils. They are most often found:

  • near forest edges
  • in woodland openings
  • in openings along forest access roads or trails

Katydids like the Davis’s Shieldback tend to inhabit the leaf litter and above-ground shrubbery in their habitats.

Davis’s Shieldback has been recorded in southwestern Ontario, from Michigan to Vermont, and south to North Carolina and Arkansas.

Where it’s been found in Ontario

Davis’s Shieldback has only been found in Norfolk County in southwestern Ontario, in the habitats of the Norfolk Sand Plain.

What threatens it

The greatest threats to Davis’s Shieldback are habitat degradation and fragmentation of the oak savannahs and woodlands it inhabits. This degradation and fragmentation are caused by:

  • changes in management practices (such as fire suppression)
  • changes in land use (such as damage from off-road vehicle traffic)
  • natural system modifications by plant and insect species (such as invasive species) that may degrade habitat quality

Davis’s Shieldback is a flightless species and is incapable of travelling long distances or crossing major bodies of water. As their habitat is fragmented and degraded, this species’ limited mobility makes it difficult to migrate between sites to find suitable habitat.

Other threats to Davis’s Shieldback may include:

  • impact from commercial and industrial areas
  • recreational activities
  • roadways
  • agricultural and forestry effluents (runoff)
  • climate change and severe weather impacts

Action we are taking

This species and its habitat are protected under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA).

The ESA also requires the preparation of recovery guidance for threatened species such as Davis’s Shieldback to guide recovery efforts for the species in Ontario.

All species listed on the Species at Risk in Ontario List may be eligible for consideration for government funding through the Species at Risk Stewardship Program.

What you can do

Report a sighting

Submit your observations of species at risk to the Natural Heritage Information Centre (NHIC), which is Ontario’s conservation data centre. Join the “(NHIC) Rare Species of Ontario” project in iNaturalist to make submitting your observations quick and easy.


Volunteer with species at risk programs, such as community science surveys, through your local nature club, a provincial park or other conservation organizations.

Be a good steward

Report illegal activity

Report any illegal activity related to species at risk to 1-866-MOETIPS (6638477).

Quick facts

  • The Canadian population of Davis’s Shieldback is estimated to be small, with a preliminary estimate of between 300 to 1,310 mature individuals.
  • Davis’s Shieldback has one generation per year. Nymphs hatch in the spring and mature into adults that are active from July through September, perishing in below freezing temperatures.
  • Adult males produce songs called stridulations by rubbing their wings. Although quiet, the male’s song is distinctive and useful for species identification and locating individuals.