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Posts Tagged ‘Handsome Meadow Katydid’

Initially I couldn’t figure out what large insect this Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) had captured on Friday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. When the bluebird turned to the side, however, I realized that it was a Handsome Meadow Katydid (Orchelimum pulchellum), one of my favorite insects. The bluebird beat the insect against the log on which it was perched, presumably to subdue the katydid or to break open its hard shell, before consuming it.

It is hard to truly appreciate the beauty of the multi-colored katydid from a distance, so I am including a close-up photo of a Handsome Meadow Katydid from a posting that I did in August 2013 that was entitled “Rainbow grasshopper.” Check out my thoughts and feelings in that post about one of my initial encounters with such a katydid.

Still, bluebirds have to eat too, so I experienced only a brief moment of sorrow at the demise of this beautiful little creature.

Eastern Bluebird

Handsome Meadow Katydid

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Do you have a favorite insect? This is such a strange question that most folks would not have an immediate answer and would have to stop and think a bit before responding. The quickest responses would undoubtedly come from those who simply do not like insects at all. The most common positive answer, I suspect, might well be a Monarch Butterfly.

Many readers know that I see lots of beautiful dragonflies and butterflies, but my favorite insect is almost certainly the Handsome Meadow Katydid (Orchelimum pulchellum), like this one that I photographed on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I remember my sense of awe and amazement the first time that I spotted one—I couldn’t believe my own eyes, because the combination of colors seemed so bright and almost unreal. When I initially posted a photo of the Handsome Meadow Katydid, one of my friends thought that I had added the colors in Photoshop.

To this day, I never fail to marvel at a Handsome Meadow Katydid’s spectacular rainbow colors and incredible blue eyes and am always thrilled to discover again their amazing beauty when I am fortunate enough to find one.

Handsome Meadow Katydid

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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The rays of sunshine illuminated her face and our eyes met and Katy and I shared a moment when time seemed to stand still. Alas, the spell was soon broken and she abandoned me. Yes, Katy did.

I took this shot last weekend at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetlands Refuge at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. I believe that “Katy” is a Handsome Meadow Katydid (Orchelimum pulchellum), although much of the katydid’s body remained in the shadows so I am not one hundred percent sure of the species identification, though the length of the antennae makes me confident that it is a katydid and not a grasshopper.

It was a fun challenge to get this shot, which I decided to post uncropped. I was sprawled on the ground, trying to get at eye level with the katydid and move in as closely as I could without disturbing the stalks of grass. For a shot like this, my 180mm macro lens was perfect, though I really have to focus on technique to make sure that my shooting position is steady, given that the lens does not have any built-in image stabilization (VR for Nikon folks).

Handsome Meadow Katydid

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Do you have a favorite insect? I realize that’s a strange question and, if pressed, most people probably would respond with the name of a butterfly or perhaps a ladybug or a dragonfly, but my favorite is unquestionably the Handsome Meadow Katydid (Orchelimum pulchellum).

Two summers ago, I had my initial encounter with the rainbow-colored grasshopper-like insect at my local marshland park and it was love at first sight. It was so unexpected to see those beautiful blue eyes staring at me with apparent curiosity. The amazing colors of the body are so vivid and varied that one of my friends accused me of creating them in Photoshop. I can’t help but be cheered up by the mere sight of one of these beauties.

There was a lot of reconstruction work at my marsh this past year and water levels are a lot higher than in the past. All summer I waited for my friends to reappear, fearing that the changed habitat or the polar vortex of this past winter had adversely affected their survival. Suddenly, two weeks ago I started hearing from others that the Handsome Meadow Katydids were back.

Last week, I finally saw a few of these beauties myself and took this shot of one of them. In addition to the gorgeous colors, you can’t help but notice the really long legs and antennae (is one of them missing).

I don’t care who you are—you have to agree that these katydids really are handsome, even if it’s not at the top of your list. As for me, it’s still my favorite.

Handsome Meadow Katydid

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It is pretty cool that a website (cracked.com) chose to use one of my photos in an article entitled “6 Insanely Colored Versions of Normally Boring Animals.” It is this photo that I took during the summer of my favorite insect, the Handsome Meadow Katydid and I featured in a posting called Rainbow Grasshopper.

rainbow1_blog

Check out the article at http://www.cracked.com/article_20811_6-insanely-colored-versions-normally-boring-animals.html .

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Perhaps the old adage that “opposites attract” applies to grasshoppers too. When I photographed this intimate moment on a leaf, I couldn’t figure out for sure what was going on.

Perhaps the grasshopper was attracted by the bright colors of the Handsome Meadow Katydid and was trying to start a conversation.  Maybe this was a blind date set up by some well-intentioned friends. Is it possible they matched on a lot of points in the insect version of Match.com?

I have photographed grasshoppers and katydids separately, but this is the first time I have them both in a single image. It is fascinating to be able to compare the bodies of the two species and note the differences in the eyes, the legs, and many other parts.

The striking colors of the Handsome Meadow Katydid have always drawn my attention, but I am left with one question to ponder. Do grasshoppers even see in color or only in shades of gray?

grasshopper_encounter_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As was watching this Handsome Meadow Katydid (Orchelimum pulchellum) through my viewfinder,  it suddenly arched its body and assumed a position worthy of an world-class gymnast or yoga master. What was it doing?

rainbow_gymnastics_blog

My first thought was that the katydid was merely stretching, getting ready for the day’s activities. When you jump around as much as these insects do, you can’t risk a pulled muscle or other injury by not warming up properly.

Over the past year, this rainbow-colored katydid has become my favorite insect, but I confess that I don’t much about their anatomy. Looking over my photos, I realized that I needed to identify the orange-colored body part, a part that I don’t recall observing before, in order to figure out what was going on. What could it possibly be?

rainbow_gymnastics3_blog

Well, it looks like this katydid probably is a female and the orange-colored thing is her ovipositor, the organ used for depositing eggs. So, is she depositing eggs in the photos? I am not sure.

A University of Arkansas website describes the ovipositing for a similar katydid with these words, “An ovipositing female embraces a plant stem with her prothoracic and mesothoracic legs and brings the curved and sword-like ovipositor far forward so its tip can scrape the substrate.” It’s not really helpful when the explanation contains so many words with which I am unfamiliar. I think that I will leave this kind of science to the scientists.

As a photographer, I continue to be amazed by the multi-colored beauty of this fascinating insect and especially by its alluring blue eyes. I know that it’s an illusion, but those eyes often seem to be looking right at me. I’m not sure if this Handsome Meadow Katydid is depositing eggs in these photos, but I am sure that  I like the images a lot, including the final image, which shows the katydid in a more “normal” position following her brief series of gymnastics.

rainbow_gymnastics2_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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