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Posts Tagged ‘grasshopper’

Do you ever stop to look at grasshoppers? A lot of them are really cool, like this giant one that I spotted on Thursday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I love how it looks like the grasshopper is wearing a helmet on its head and a suit of armor on its torso.

I am not very good in identifying grasshopper species, but after looking through various internet sites, I wonder if this might be an Eastern Lubber grasshopper (Romalea guttata). This species is found only in the southeastern part of the United States. Virginia, where I live, is not within its listed range, so it is possible that this is a related species. Whatever the case, I definitely love the bold coloration of this giant grasshopper.

yellow grasshopper

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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There were quite a few grasshoppers yesterday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge and this one cooperated for me by posing momentarily. Initially the grasshopper hung upside down as shown in the first image, but eventually it climbed around on the stalk of vegetation and assumed a more upright pose.

I couldn’t help but notice that the background of the two shots seems really different. I think this was caused by the fact that I shot them from very different angles, even though I remained more or less in the same spot.

grasshopper

grasshopper

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This shot from Monday is for Cindy Dyer, my photography mentor, who used to refer to me as her “grasshopper” and taught me some important lessons when I was just starting to get serious about my photography six years ago.

Folks of a certain age may recall that “grasshopper” was the nickname used by Master Po for his young student Kwai Chang Caine in the western martial arts television series Kung Fu in the 1970’s. The name is a reference to a wonderful scene in the pilot episode for the series in which the blind teacher helps to teach his new student that “seeing” requires more than the simple use of your eyes.

Here, from Wikipedia, is a snippet of dialogue with some of the wisdom of Master Po:

Master Po: Close your eyes. What do you hear?
Young Caine: I hear the water, I hear the birds.
Po: Do you hear your own heartbeat?
Caine: No.
Po: Do you hear the grasshopper which is at your feet?
Caine: Old man, how is it that you hear these things?
Po: Young man, how is it that you do not?

In case you have never heard of the Kung Fu television series or want to relive a moment from your past, here is a link to a short YouTube video of the above-referenced scene.

As a nature photographer, I think a lot about “seeing” as I seek a closer connection with the natural world and so many of its inhabitants. My observations have caused me to conclude that the pace of the natural world is different from that of my everyday life and that I consequently have to slow down in order to be in synch with it.

grasshopper

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I’ve never really paid that much attention to grasshoppers, but I am starting to discover that there is an amazing variety of them in my local area in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and colors.

It’s hard to know where to start in trying to identify them, so for now I am content with trying to photograph their beauty, which is a pretty big challenge by itself. Not surprisingly, grasshoppers tend to hang out in the grass and heavy vegetation where they are hard to spot and almost impossible to isolate. Sometimes, though, they’ll hop out of the cluttered area to a more exposed perch and that gives me a change to photograph them.

The two photos here give you an idea of the kind of shots towards which I am aiming. In the first image, I was determined to focus on the eye and it ended up as one of the few areas in focus. I like the effect, however, because there is something special about eye-to-eye contact. In the second shot, I positioned myself to get more of the body in focus. As is the case with so many of my macro shots, depth of field was a real challenge.

I suspect that grasshoppers will never quite rise to the level of dragonflies on my personal list of favorite subjects, but they are on my list now and I will probably stop more often in the future to photograph them.

grasshopper

grasshopper

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I sometimes make up my own names for species that I have trouble identifying and I call this grasshopper that I observed this weekend the Dual-unicorn Grasshopper, because the shape and pattern of the antennae remind me of many of the depictions I have seen of the mythical unicorn.

What is it really called? Almost exactly a year ago, I posted some photos of a similar-looking grasshopper and considered the possibility that it might be a Slant-faced Grasshopper or a Cone-headed Grasshopper. Are those names any less outrageous than the one that I am suggesting?

I did manage last year to find some photos of grasshoppers that looked pretty much like mine that were identified on BugGuide as a Cattail Toothpick Grasshopper (Leptysma marginicollis).

Cattail Toothpick Grasshopper? I have to say that those three words make for an unusual word combination. I think I’ll continue to call it the Dual-unicorn Grasshopper.

Dual-unicorn Grasshopper

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The dragonfly population continues to decrease as we move deeper into autumn, but my little winged friends seem to have been replaced by grasshoppers. Whenever I walk through the fields of my favorite marshland park, I am preceded by mini explosions of insects. Most of the grasshoppers hop far away, but yesterday one of them chose a nearby stalk of grass and posed for me.

grasshopper

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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What do adventurous young grasshoppers do for fun? Hopping may be ok for the average grasshopper, but this little guy prefers the adrenaline rush he feels when he scales the sheer face of a rocky cliff with no ropes or other climbing gear.

grasshopper

The truth is a little less exciting than my fiction. The angle was not as steep as it looks in the shot and the “rock” is actually a rotten log.

I still choose to believe that grasshoppers like a little adventure in their lives. Who knows what they do when we are not watching?

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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