Characters in the field

“I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.

You will hardly know who I am or what I mean
But I shall be good health to you nonetheless
And filter and fibre your blood.”
— Walt Whitman (Song of Myself)

I think this is a Fork-tailed Bush Katydid (on a milkweed plant). They are so agreeable to photograph. The other insects on the milkweed tended to hide behind the stem or a leaf and if I walked around, they’d move to the other side in a flash. The Katydids are hard to find because of their camouflage, but if you stay in one place for awhile, their shapes begin to “appear”.

An especially tiny and curious grasshopper peering over a milkweed leaf.

A Meadow Spittlebug, just a couple millimetres long. “It looks like a Chevrolet,” was the first response I got when I showed the photo to someone.

The Conductor

Based on my explorations at, I believe this is a European Mantis (apparently the marking on the inside of the front leg is key).

26 Responses to “Characters in the field”
  1. Meanderer says:

    Wow! Such beautiful and detailed photographs of these wonderful creatures. You have really captured their individual characteristics so well!

  2. sandy says:

    OMG, these are so good! How many people could capture the expressions on insect faces? I am so impressed. Cait.

  3. Montucky says:

    Wow, outstanding photos of the little creatures! I love the katydids and the mantis has been a favorite for years.

  4. Donald says:

    more wonderful shots, kudos!!! it has been years since i have seen a mantis.

  5. Lots of personality in these great photos, Cait! The detail you’ve captured is amazing!

  6. I love your photos! They truly are captivating. I love nature. I just saw a turtle in my backyard today (it never happens), and I was amazed. It can also be kind of sad though because there isn’t a lot of space left for them to survive. There are just too many houses and shopping centers. Anyway, I enjoyed dropping by. By the way, I write about nature on my blog. I hope you can drop by sometime too. Thanks for sharing your talent. 🙂

  7. skadhu says:

    These are wonderful, Cait. I can’t believe the photo of the spittlebug, that’s amazing!

    A friend of mine had a couple of pet mantises, and I’ve caught wild ones a couple of times. The wild ones move MUCH faster than the pets did—the pets mostly just sat on one’s hand and swayed. They’re really engaging little critters—it helps that they can cock their heads when looking at you. I actually considered getting one as a pet, as they’re pretty low maintenance and keep bugs off your house plants, but changed my mind when I saw one eat the live cricket that had to be provided for sustenance… eep! Nature, red, er, greeny-brown, in tooth and claw. I decided to admire without a more intimate relationship. But these photos remind me of why I like them. Thanks!

    (Oh, and my friend tells a hysterical story about an escaped cricket that got under the fridge and creaked, till her roommates thought that the fridge was broken and called a repairman…)

    • Thanks skadhu! I liked the spittlebugs too, they were the smallest, but seemed to have the most character. I’ve heard of people having a mantis as a pet, but yeah, perhaps admiring them outside is the way to go! That’s hilarious about the cricket. I’ll bet the repairman had a good laugh! I used to have a cricket in my office – which for the life of me I couldn’t find, so it became the soundtrack of the place.

  8. Barbara Rodgers says:

    The katydid and the mantis both look like they are posing for you! Amazing pictures of a detailed little world!

  9. Superb photos- amazing what lies all around us, isn’t it?

  10. Lisa says:

    Your macro work, as usual, is fantastic. I love how you capture what appears like expressions almost on the insects’ faces. And the green – a perfect summer photo series!

  11. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

    This is wonderful Macro photography! Great work!

  12. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    Hi Cait, Thanks for sharing your fantastic closeups! I’ve always loved bug-watching, especially Mantis’. They always seem so alert, yet curious and I’ve often wondered exactly what is that they’re thinking about. (I’ll bet it’s a lot more than we give them credit for; ) Your subject has a distinct air of disdainful superiority.
    And the Spittlebug… Holy cow, what a set of jaws that little beggar has! No wonder they can jump so far, 75% of their body mass is leg! Now I understand the lingering impression of an insect “donkey kick” after they leap off of your skin. Seriously, thanks for helping me remember things I haven’t thought about in years. : )

    • Hi Deb, Thanks so much, what a lovely comment to find! I’m glad the photos helped you remember these little ones. An “insect donkey kick” – what a great way to decribe it! It really is incredible how far they jump. Thanks for coming by!

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