Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Bugs mating on common witchgrass

with 22 comments

Bugs Mating on Common Witchgrass 4422

Here I resorted to selective focus by concentrating on the slender strand of common witchgrass (Panicum capillare) that these bugs clung to with their feet as they continued mating. The light glinting off the bugs’ abdomens came from the sun, not from a flash.

Like the previous picture, this one is from June 2nd near Naruna Way in far northeast Austin. Last summer, from a site on the Blackland Prairie only about a mile away from this one, I offered up a different look at bugs mating on the same species of grass. I wonder whether witchgrass might turn out to be an aphrodisiac for people as well. If any of you are interested in carrying out experiments and reporting the results to us, go for it.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 6, 2015 at 5:29 AM

22 Responses

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  1. What I couldn’t figure out was whether these bugs are much larger than the ones in last year’s photo, or whether that grass blade was larger. Finally, I decided that “blade” and “strand” are different parts of the grass, and this seems to confirm it. Not much discretion here. I can imagine an observing bug off-stage saying, “Why don’t you two get a blade?”


    August 6, 2015 at 6:35 AM

    • My impression—subject as always to the distortions of memory—is that last year’s bugs were larger, and unfortunately I don’t know if they were the same species.

      I used “strand” in a casual way. I don’t believe it’s part of the technical botanical vocabulary for describing grasses, but you’re right that a blade of grass is wider. The strand in today’s picture was part of one of this grass’s attractive seed heads. I searched to see if I’d ever shown one of those in its own right, but I found that I haven’t.

      Your suggestion of getting a blade reminds me of another meaning of the word. Here’s the entry for that sense from the 1913 Webster’s: ‘A sharp-witted, dashing, wild, or reckless, fellow; — a word of somewhat indefinite meaning.’

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 6, 2015 at 6:53 AM

  2. Fascinating! Rarely do we see this as it happens and certainly not captured as you’ve done so we can study it. Thank you !!

    Hub’s out searching for witch grass as we speak. But we don’t kiss and tell 😀

    Sammy D.

    August 6, 2015 at 8:45 AM

    • I don’t know how far west of Denver you are, but the USDA map at


      shows Panicum capillare in the counties of Boulder and Jefferson, as well as in some counties farther west. That information will let your husband narrow down his search, but from what you say we’re not likely to know the results. Insects (and other animals) have no such compunction, however, and I see scenes like this more often than you might think.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 6, 2015 at 8:58 AM

      • We’re in Jefferson County 😀 Hub is grinning.

        Heck I’ve probably picked some and have it – unidentified – in my stash. At any rate, it calls for another hike and some close attention to what other critters are doing .

        Thanks so much. Your blog is never-ending surprises, resources, and source of joy!

        Sammy D.

        August 6, 2015 at 9:02 AM

        • Happy grins, happy hike, and with some luck a bewitching (i.e. be-witchgrass-ing) experience.

          You’re welcome for the info: I enjoy reporting what I see and learn, of which there’s of course no end.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 6, 2015 at 9:22 AM

  3. So that’s how they do it!

    Margie Roe

    August 6, 2015 at 9:05 AM

    • It is indeed. One of them can tow the other one while maintaining that configuration or even fly about while coupled.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 6, 2015 at 9:29 AM

  4. No sex please, we are British. Actually it is an amazing capture.

    Raewyn's Photos

    August 6, 2015 at 2:16 PM

  5. Mmm. So very sexy. I never thought I’d come here for the porn, Steve. Great eye on that pair. I guess it helps that you are searching for ‘macro’ with flowers.


    August 7, 2015 at 2:18 PM

    • Variety is the spice of life: gotta get a little action in here from time to time, right? Just call it macro mating.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 7, 2015 at 2:20 PM

  6. At least put a PG-13 warning up there. It’s a nice shot, but as to the couple, well, they are just amateurs.

    Steve Gingold

    August 8, 2015 at 12:33 PM

  7. A pity there isn’t any clover. They could roll in that instead of perching precariously on witchgrass.


    August 8, 2015 at 11:54 PM

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