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Posts Tagged ‘Orchelimum pulchellum’

I was absolutely delighted to spot this Handsome Meadow Katydid (Orchelimum pulchellum) last week when I visited Huntley Meadows Park with fellow dragonfly enthusiast Walter Sanford. Some of you may recall that this colorful katydid is my favorite insect. The katydid, which appears to be a female, was sunning herself on the raised edge of the boardwalk that runs through the marshland at this park. I love the way she is sprawled out with her body fully extended, forcing me to take a panorama-style shot to capture her portrait.

If you look carefully, you may note that “wood” of the boardwalk is actually an artificial composite material. For me this is a real benefit, because I don’t get splinters when I lie down on the boardwalk, as I am wont to do to get certain shots. However, I have learned from past experience that this surface gets really slick when there is frost or ice.

Handsome Meadow Katydid

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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How flexible are you? I used to run marathons and, like most runners, I am not very flexible. I marvel at ordinary people who can bend down and touch the floor while keeping their knees straight and am utterly fascinated when I watch gymnasts and acrobats. Several years ago I attended a Cirque de Soleil performance and was mesmerized the entire time.

I don’t think of grasshoppers and katydids as being particularly flexible—their outer shell seems rigid and armor-like. Imagine my surprise and delight when I stumbled upon this flexible female Handsome Meadow Katydid (Orchelimum pulchellum) last week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Normally her ovipositor, the yellow scimitar shaped appendage at the end of her abdomen, faces to the back. In this case, though, she has arched her back so much that the tip of the ovipositor extends further forward than her head.

What is she doing? I think that she is somewhere in the process of depositing eggs. I do not know exactly how that works, but a University of Arkansas website described 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.” There are a lot of unfamiliar scientific words there, but I think I get the gist of what is going on.

I do not recall photographing this process before, but a search of my blog revealed that, in fact, I captured a series of images in a September 2013 posting entitled “Rainbow katydid depositing eggs?“. Be sure to check out that earlier posing for more fascinating photos of a flexible katydid.

Handsome Meadow Katydid

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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What’s my favorite insect? If I were to do a survey of readers of this blog, I am confident that most would say that my favorite insect would have to be one of the many dragonflies that I regularly feature here. I do love dragonflies and spend endless amounts of time during the warm months photographing them, but if I had to choose one favorite insect, it would not be one of them—it would be the Handsome Meadow Katydid (Orchelimum pulchellum).

I remember my sense of amazement the first time that I spotted one of these multi-colored beauties. I literally could not believe my eyes and it was love at first sight. To this day, I never fail to be mesmerized by the neon colors and the blue eyes of the Handsome Meadow Katydid. Love is love—when we are smitten, words somehow are inadequate to explain our feelings.

I spotted this beautiful female Handsome Meadow Katydid on Tuesday while photowalking at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge with fellow dragonfly enthusiast Walter Sanford. You can tell that this one is a female because of the yellow scimitar-shaped appendage at the tip of the abdomen that is an ovipositor used to deposit eggs on plants.

I really like the the ways that the colors of the katydid are repeated in the background and the repeated pattern of the vegetation leads the eye and somehow manages to be unobtrusive. All in all, it seems to be the perfect backdrop for the appropriately-named Handsome Meadow Katydid, my favorite insect.

Handsome Meadow Katydid

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Do you have a favorite insect? Although I like dragonflies a lot, my favorite insect is probably the rainbow-colored Handsome Meadow Katydid (Orchelimum pulchellum). I was thrilled to spot this beauty on some colorful vegetation last Saturday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

I remember well the sense of incredulity that I felt when I saw one of these insects for the very first time—I simply could not believe that the bright colors were real. The beautiful curling leaves hide the details of the katydid’s body a little, but add a wonderful artistic element to this image. If want to see the brilliant colors of a Handsome Meadow Katydid on full display, check out this link to a 2013 posting that I entitled Rainbow Grasshopper—it is one of my most popular posts to date with over 315 views.

The vivid colors of this katydid are sure to grab your attention, but you should also be sure to check out its eyes. I am still blown away every time that I see those amazing eyes that seem to be looking deeply into me.  Here’s looking at you, kid.

Handsome Meadow Katydid

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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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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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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Looking into a Swamp Rose Mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos), I immediately noticed the distinctive colors of a Handsome Meadow Katydid (Orchelimum pulchellum), feeding on the center stalk of the flower.

The katydid did not move from its position and merely cocked its head a little to the side and glanced up at me with its striking blue eyes. It seemed to be a little irritated to be disturbed, though I must confess that it’s really hard to gauge the emotions of an insect from its expressions.

The Handsome Meadow Katydid is one of my favorite insects and, in my humble opinion, truly deserves its name. In addition to its rainbow coloration and distinctive eyes, it has the cutest little feet and toes.

katy_mallow1_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Let me introduce you to the coolest-looking insect I have ever encountered, the Handsome Meadow Katydid (Orchelimum pulchellum), an insect that I photographed this past weekend at my local marsh. The name just seems to fit the insect perfectly, unlike so many other insects that seem to have been named almost randomly.

I still recall the first time that I encountered a Handsome Meadow Katydid last summer and the resulting double take—I could not believe what my eyes were seeing. The bright colors of the body were astonishing and seemed so unreal that one of my friends wondered if I had colorized the photo.

It’s the eyes, though, that make this insect so attractive for me. There is just something so alluring about those blue eyes, eyes that I don’t expect to see in an insect.

I got some pretty good shots of Handsome Meadow Katydids last year, but was growing concerned that I would not see many this year (you can tell it’s a katydid, in part, because of the length of the antennae). I actually heard this katydid before I saw it. I was passing by a small bush and hear a kind of vibrating sound. I put my ear closer and closer to the plant and finally spotted the source.

I had to go pretty wide in cropping the shot, because the katydid was stretched out along the small branch. Click on the image if you want see a higher resolution view of the photo, including those amazing eyes.

rainbow1_blog

© 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 would respond with the name of a beautiful butterfly or perhaps a ladybug, but my favorite is a very special katydid.

Last summer, though, I fell in love with a multi-colored grasshopper-like insect called the Handsome Meadow Katydid (Orchelimum pulchellum). I was absolutely thrilled yesterday to encounter and photograph a tiny insect that is almost certainly one a juvenile Handsome Meadow Katydid.

Although its colors are pretty distinctive, it’s the blue eyes that make it really stand out. The eyes really draw me in, even if they do look a little cartoonish.

Each time I visit the marsh, I will now be on the lookout for these insects, which actually grow more handsome as they age. If you want to see what they look like as adults check out my previous postings called Neon-colored grasshopper; More Handsome Meadow Katydids; and Ol’ Blue Eyes is Back.

Be forewarned, though, that you too may fall in love and end up with a new favorite insect.

katy1_blog

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Several years ago I saw one of the Cirque du Soleil productions, an event full of dazzling costumes and amazing acrobatic feats. Memories of that unforgettable experience were triggered when I first viewed this photo of another Handsome Meadow Katydid (Orchelimum pulchellum) at Huntley Meadows Park. I have previously posted a number of different images of this very photogenic insect, but this one shows my beautiful friend in action, rather than in a static pose.

Acrobatic Handsome Meadow Katydid

I recall how the acrobats of the Cirque du Soleil were suspended high in mid-air, holding on (often with what seemed to be a single toe) to a trapeze or to a slender rope. My little katydid is not risking his life in that way, but I do find it amazing how he is clinging to the single stalk of grass. His brilliant colors continue to amaze me and the red blotches on his face accentuate the circus-like effect, as you can see in this close-up view of his face.

Close-up view of a Handsome Meadow Katydid

I will be a little sad when I stop seeing my colorful little friends at Huntley Meadows Park, but the memories will remain. Perhaps  in the future, some brightly colored object or acrobatic pose will trigger memories of these katydids, nature’s own Cirque du Soleil.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I still can’t get over the striking blue eyes of a Handsome Meadow Katydid (Orchelimum pulchellum), so I am posting a shot from yesterday that highlights that feature (and my apologies to Frank Sinatra for borrowing the title of his 1973 album for this post).

The katydid almost seemed to be looking right up at me, perhaps wondering why I am disturbing him. I find the details of his feet to be utterly fascinating and I’ve made sure that you can see some of the many neon-like colors of his body.

Check out some of my other postings if this is your first encounter with this gorgeous katydid. You’re almost certain to fall in love with him too.

Ol’ Blue Eyes (Handsome Meadow Katydid)

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Early this morning I went out with my camera and I was happy to spot again the very colorful grasshoppers known as Handsome Meadow Katydids (Orchelimum pulchellum). As was the case the first time I spotted these neon-colored insects, I was at Huntley Meadows Parks in Alexandria, VA. I had a little trouble getting clear shots of the entire bodies of the katydids, but I managed to capture some good close-up shots of their faces. I especially like the first shot, taken looking down at him as he was munching on a leaf.

I continue to be amazed at the katydid’s vivid colors and blue eyes. Wow!

Handsome Meadow Katydid Munching on a Leaf

Close-up Shot of Handsome Meadow Katydid

Body Shot of Handsome Meadow Katydid

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I just got back from shooting and couldn’t wait to post a photo of one of the coolest looking insects that I have ever seen. It appears to be be part of the grasshopper family, but its bright colors and blue eyes really made it stand out as I was walking through the marsh at Huntley Meadows Park this morning. I’m sure I’ll be able to identify him eventually, but want to share him now. Sometimes folks need a little extra pick-me-up on Fridays.

UPDATE: I am pretty sure he is a Handsome Meadow Katydid (Orchelimum pulchellum). I found a photo in BugGuide that looks quite a bit like this one.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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