Posts Tagged ‘rainbow katydid’

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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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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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?


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?


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.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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