Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Not a spider on the spiderwort

with 48 comments

Katydid Nymph on Spiderwort Flower 9466

Last time you saw some spiderwort buds (Tradescantia spp.) from the preserve behind the Austin Nature Center on March 23rd, but mostly on that outing I looked at spiderwort flowers rather than buds. When I got close to this spiderwort flower I noticed a green nymph that I think might be Dichopetala catinata, the spoon-tailed short-winged katydid. Note how the curve of its antenna continues the curve of its back.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 5, 2015 at 5:21 AM

48 Responses

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  1. A nymph who hasn’t yet learned about camouflage techniques.


    April 5, 2015 at 7:23 AM

    • It may say more about me than about a predator, but I didn’t find the nymph easy to see. After I spotted it and got close with my macro lens, its bright green against the purple of the flower became more conspicuous, as you see it here, but from a distance I think I could easily have missed the insect.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 5, 2015 at 7:53 AM

  2. Your katydid reminded me of another image of one with pink eyes. I googled it for an image. It seems the image is all over the place. Made me laugh. http://bit.ly/1a4jcWo

    Your katydid needs to clean that antenna of that yellow spot, if it can be reached.

    Jim in IA

    April 5, 2015 at 7:49 AM

    • My world is wider now that I know there are pink-eyed katydids in it. That, plus the facts that a katydid is an animal and that pink begins with the same sound as purple, reminded me of these lines by Gelett Burgess.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 5, 2015 at 8:04 AM

      • I see no little square.

        Jim in IA

        April 5, 2015 at 4:44 PM

        • When I pasted the link as a line of its own it showed up as a little clickable square (don’t ask me why, apparently a quirk of WordPress), but I’ve gone back and embedded the link into my words. If you look back at my comment now, the link should show up.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 5, 2015 at 5:35 PM

          • Yes, it does take me to the purple cow. Very good graphic. I remember hearing that a long time ago. Now I know whence it comes. Thanks.

            Jim in IA

            April 5, 2015 at 6:46 PM

            • You’re welcome. Burgess’s follow-up, after the poem became wildly successful, was:

              Ah, yes, I wrote the “Purple Cow”—
              I’m Sorry, now, I wrote it;
              But I can tell you Anyhow
              I’ll Kill you if you Quote it!

              Steve Schwartzman

              April 5, 2015 at 8:12 PM

    • By the way, I think the tiny yellow spots were pollen from the spiderwort.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 5, 2015 at 8:19 AM

    • Wow, I sure do hope that original photographer got credit at least for his/her shot popping up all over the interweb. No pink-eyed katys around here, at least none that I’ve seen.

      Steve Gingold

      April 5, 2015 at 9:07 AM

      • I’ve been troubled for a long time by the way people swipe things on the Internet, often without even mentioning who created the original (much less asking for permission to use it). It’s not just photographs, either. If you search for the lyrics of a song, you’ll often be told the name of the singer who popularized the song but not the names of the song’s composer and lyricist.

        Steve Schwartzman

        April 5, 2015 at 11:12 AM

        • If you upload it to the web there isn’t much you can do to prevent piracy. There are ways to disable right clicks, ala WhyTake, but you can’t stop screen grabs. I figure that it’s going to happen. I’m turning over a new leaf so won’t comment on those folks. It is troubling however, as you say.

          If you want to know if any of yours have been lifted, you can do a search via Google Images, but it’s just one at a time which can get tedious. I found a couple but they were being used in school classes so not worth the effort to me to pursue it. At least they were being used for good purposes…at least I’d expect so.

          Steve Gingold

          April 5, 2015 at 11:58 AM

          • In the cases where you found your pictures used in schools, was there at least a link to a website of yours? Was your copyright notice still in each photograph?

            Steve Schwartzman

            April 5, 2015 at 2:19 PM

            • No link, but they left my copyright intact. I have had a couple of folks ask for permission to use them but after I said OK I never heard from them again.

              Steve Gingold

              April 5, 2015 at 3:06 PM

      • I got a chuckle out of all those shots on the google machine.

        Jim in IA

        April 5, 2015 at 6:55 PM

  3. And, I believe, there are entirely pink katydids. How fun is that? This one is adorable, and I did notice the curved line of his antenna. I like how you treated this image, with soft focus on the back of the flower.


    April 5, 2015 at 9:04 AM

    • Pink katydids: will you be telling us about pink kangaroos as well?

      In this case, the soft focus on the back of the flower isn’t so much an aesthetic choice as a reality of optics. When you put a macro lens as close to a subject as mine was to this one, there’s little depth of field. It was all I could do to get important parts of the katydid in focus; almost everything else was out of focus, although part of the near fringe of the flower was coincidentally in focus.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 5, 2015 at 9:33 AM

      • No, but have you heard about the pink chickens in Oregon?


        April 5, 2015 at 9:40 AM

      • When I was having the first in the series of physical measurements of my eyes taken last week, I was chatting with the technician about the process and the purpose. When he mentioned the need to allow my eyes to stop changing shape so they would have an accurate accounting of my eyes’ focal length, the tumblers in my mental lock started falling. I was more than a little surprised to find a section about eyes in the middle of this page, which also includes cameras and telescopes, but there it is.

        I suspect the relationship between eyes and cameras is common knowledge for most people, but I’d not made the connection. I never expected this surgical process to be useful in helping me to understand cameras, but this has been quite the “Eureka” experience. (It even comes with more math, and useful formulae!)


        April 6, 2015 at 8:17 AM

        • I wouldn’t say that the relationship between eyes and cameras is common knowledge for most people—cynical me would say that hardly anything is common knowledge outside the realms of sports, entertainment, and other parts of popular culture—but photographers are likely to know it.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 6, 2015 at 8:28 AM

  4. It’s my understanding that nymphs are very hard to ID. I got quite a stern lecture about that from one of the folks on BG.N…we are now friends but he was none too pleased with me at the time.
    They do get quite a bit of pollen on their antennae based on the ones we get in the garden here. I don’t have a shot online of our messiest visitor, but I’ll post it later.

    Steve Gingold

    April 5, 2015 at 9:14 AM

    • The only reason I made even a tentative identification was that someone in Austin who knows a lot more about insects than I ever will posted a photograph of a Dichopetala catinata nymph at around the same time I took photographed this insect, and the two look similar.

      We’ll look forward to seeing your messy visitor.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 5, 2015 at 9:49 AM

  5. Lovely shot! Speaking of spiders, I actually photographed one on a spiderwort a few years ago. Now that was serendipitous!


    April 5, 2015 at 9:15 AM

    • Now that was serendipitous. If you have your spider-on-spiderwort picture online, please point us toward it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 5, 2015 at 10:32 AM

  6. […] subject of a katydid with a pollen grain on its antenna came up on Steve Schwartzman’s blog today and I realized that I haven’t posted a katy here…at least according to WP’s […]

  7. A perfect alien, perfectly captured 🙂


    April 5, 2015 at 1:58 PM

    • Insects can be quite alien, can’t they? Based on photographs and videos I’ve seen, some sea creatures are even more so.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 5, 2015 at 2:21 PM

  8. Great capture.

    Raewyn's Photos

    April 5, 2015 at 2:44 PM

    • In looking back at that session, I see that in photographing this katydid on the spiderwort I took about four dozen pictures from various angles.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 5, 2015 at 2:55 PM

  9. Gorgeous photo Steve. I just love it

  10. I really love this sensational little green insect on this purple blossom!

    Birder's Journey

    April 5, 2015 at 8:16 PM

  11. Great colour coordination! A fashionista in the making…great shot by the way! 😊


    April 5, 2015 at 11:01 PM

    • You may be the first person ever to call a katydid a fashionista. When I lived in Central America I was pleased to see how freely the indigenous peoples of Guatemala mix bright colors in their clothing. I wish the tradition of the English-speaking peoples were more like those of the Guatemalans and this katydid.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 6, 2015 at 3:31 AM

  12. I’m not sure why but katydids always look a little like mechanical toys to me. The wind up kind. I have absolutely no idea why. Actually, yes I do! I’ve just remembered that one of my children had a pull along insect made out of wood and the legs moved up and down. It was a green katydid or grasshopper. Well, there you go. Amazing the memories a photograph taken across the globe can conjure up! Fantastic photo, Steve. Love the contrast of not only the colours but the “crunchy” texture of the insect against the soft petals.


    April 6, 2015 at 3:42 AM

    • When I was young there was a television show in New York called Joe Franklin’s Memory Lane. It’s fair to say this katydid took you down a memory lane of your own, and a happy one. Your recollection has sent me down a memory lane too, because I haven’t thought of Joe Franklin’s Memory Lane in probably 50 years. (In looking online just now, I found that Joe Franklin died just three months ago at the age of 88.)

      Your mention of “crunchy” reminds me that people in some parts of the world would consider this katydid food, but I’ll stick to potato chips, even if they’re much less colorful.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 6, 2015 at 4:01 AM

  13. And then there are the Katydidn’ts, which live on the water.


    April 6, 2015 at 8:32 AM

    • It wasn’t clear to me from reading the link
      Why Katydidn’t was the name of the dink.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 6, 2015 at 9:32 AM

      • I couldn’t find that, either. But the katydidnts have been around for some time. A fellow I know in a little town south of me built one a few years ago, and there’s one in Rockport. If I had to guess, I’d guess the original designer had a daughter or wife named Katy and a love of wordplay.


        April 6, 2015 at 9:34 AM

  14. Beautiful colors, nicely balanced, pleasing effect. D

    Pairodox Farm

    April 6, 2015 at 1:40 PM

  15. Reblogged this on Effervescent Francois! and commented:
    Wow–double wow!


    April 14, 2015 at 12:50 AM

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