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Posts Tagged ‘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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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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Although many summer dragonflies perch high on the vegetation, the autumn species seem to prefer the ground, so I have been spotting all kinds of cool-looking insects as I keep my eyes pointed down in my continuing search for dragonflies (and so far have not run into anything).

Earlier this week, I came across this beautiful grasshopper-like insect. It looks a bit like my all-time favorite insect, the  Handsome Meadow Katydid (Orchelimum pulchellum) and has the same long antennae, but this katydid’s colors are drab by comparison. (Check out one of my previous blog postings called Rainbow Grasshopper to see my favorite insect.)

This insect’s wings are pretty short and it looks to have a long ovipositor. As a result, I’ve tentatively concluded that it might be a female Short-winged Meadow Katydid (Conocephalus brevipennis) and have put in a request to the helpful folks at BugGuide for assistance in confirming my identification.

Short-winged Meadow Katydid

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The weather may be cooling, but things are still hopping at my local marshland park.

As I was walking through one of the back meadows last Friday, grasshoppers were hopping every which way as I approached them. Most of them settled back down into the grass and I couldn’t get a good look at them, much less a photo. Suddenly one grasshopper jumped up onto a plant and posed for a moment. I used my popup flash because I was shooting directly into the sun, and I was able to capture a good deal of detail of the insect’s body.

grass1_oct_blog

Shortly thereafter a katydid did the same, but chose to perch at a titled angle.  I had time for only a single shot and did not use flash, so you can see some of the light shining through from behind (though I did have to lighten the shadows in post-processing). I especially like the way in which the angles of the insect’s long antennae mirror the shapes of the branches of the plant. I am not sure of the specific identification of this insect, but suspect that it’s a katydid vice a grasshopper because of the extremely long antennae.

grass2_oct_blog

© 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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