Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Another insect

with 13 comments

Texas Bow-Legged Bug on Mesquite Pod 1510

Near the end of my foray through the field at the corner of Metric Blvd. and Howard Ln. on the morning of October 9th, I stopped to photograph some pods on a honey mesquite tree, Prosopis glandulosa. On one pod I found a type of insect I don’t think I’d ever seen before, the Texas bow-legged bug, Hyalymenus tarsatus (which is truly a bug). This photograph introduces the insect and the pod but not the mesquite tree itself to these pages.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 11, 2013 at 5:59 AM

13 Responses

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  1. That bug could wrap its legs around the pod during high wind days.

    Jim in IA

    November 11, 2013 at 7:57 AM

    • You’ve got a good imagination with your “wind anchor.” As we were driving along at 70 mph yesterday in Oklahoma, I was surprised to notice an insect on the outside of the driver’s-side front window. How it hung on to the glass in such a wind, I have no idea, but it did. Clever creatures, these insects.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 11, 2013 at 8:09 AM

      • True. Houseflies seldom stay attached above 30 mph. Wimps.

        Jim in IA

        November 11, 2013 at 8:20 AM

  2. It reminded me of a stink bug. I went looking, and found it can be stinkier than a stink bug. Not only that, it mimics an ant in its larval phase, so it may be far more common than I’d thought. Even without the bug, I like this photo. The curve of the seed pod against the leaves is great.

    I spent yesterday afternoon with Susan and Peter Conaty out on the Nash Prairie, along with a friend and another blogger I’d not previously met. It was like a second spring. It’s not complete (no grasses, milkweeds or a few flowers Susan pointed out and I’ve forgotten) but here’s the list of what I remember seeing and can identify.


    November 11, 2013 at 8:27 AM

    • Thanks for reporting the fruits of your research. I smelled nothing at all from this insect, but then I didn’t try getting very close, because I was interested in the composition with the whole pod and the contrasting patches of blue behind it, plus the curve that you mentioned.

      Various native tribes ground up mesquite pods to make a nutritious meal (meal in the same sense as corn meal, not the kind of meal that’s on a par with breakfast and lunch.)

      It’s great that you could spend a day of “second spring” out on the Nash Prairie, and with good company. Most of the plants in your list grow in Austin, too, but some are new to me. The Hedyotis nigricans you listed is the same as the Stenaria nigricans I showed recently; botanists keep changing some of the familiar scientific names, much to people’s confusion.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 11, 2013 at 9:32 AM

  3. I can’t imagine a bug better designed to live in Texas–it looks for all the world like a lanky, bowlegged cowpoke hanging onto the arc of a big ol’ bucking bull for dear life. Cool.


    November 11, 2013 at 5:06 PM

    • It hasn’t taken long for your imagination to get Texanized (or perhaps Texas-sized), has it? Keep up the imagining.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 11, 2013 at 7:23 PM

  4. Great clarity, light, and DOF. I like how the pod intersects the whole frame in a curved manner. Which aperture did you use? I used to post my tech specs but stopped doing so. Now I just simply mention aperture or whether I Photoshopped or not.

    M. Firpi

    November 11, 2013 at 9:51 PM

    • Thanks for appreciating the elements of this photograph. I didn’t remember the technical details, but in looking at the metadata I see that I took the picture in 1/500 sec. at f/29. I used a high shutter speed because I was concerned about wind. The small aperture was intended to get as many parts of the curving pod in focus as possible, and of course the insect too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 11, 2013 at 10:17 PM

      • I was going to say, if it was shot with the 100mm, or the 70-200? Because the 100mm has to be stopped down quite much in order to get good DOF. Another question I had was which ISO did you use? I’m between purchasing a 6D which is full frame, or getting the 70D (because of improved AF overall), but today I saw the 70D in my hands and it’s quite big; whereas the 6D is the same or lighter, and it’s full frame.

        M. Firpi

        November 13, 2013 at 2:41 PM

        • You read my mind: to be able to use so fast a shutter speed and stop down so much for depth of field, I set the ISO to 800. Of course I get a little noise with so high an ISO, but it’s not bad.

          As for the 70D, I read test results for it in a magazine the other day; the tests showed that although the 70D has more megapixels than the 60D, it didn’t resolve any more lines than the 60D.

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 13, 2013 at 4:04 PM

  5. I certainly appreciate the occasional insects in your photos, it’s neat to see a bit of how flora and fauna coexist on this scale. Also, I had no idea there were bugs and true bugs, that’s a super link. (Speaking of insects, do you folks have Walking Sticks in your parts? I saw one the other week, for maybe the second time in my life, about 3 inches long. Such a treat!)


    November 12, 2013 at 6:09 AM

    • And I appreciate your appreciation of the way flora and fauna (especially insects) coexist, Christine. When I got interested in nature photography in 1999 and started looking things up, one of the first distinctions I came across was the one between true bugs and bugs in the colloquial sense of the word. As for walking sticks, yes, we do indeed have various species of them in central Texas; I’ve occasionally photographed some but have yet to show any of those pictures here: I’ll have to see about rectifying that.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 12, 2013 at 6:56 AM

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