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Last month while I was in western New York I found this critter.

It seemed to be a grasshopper, but with very long antennae.

I backed out to try to get all the antennae in the frame. Then it struck me that it felt like trying to take a photograph of katydid nymphs back home (previous post).


The insects we usually think of as grasshoppers don't have such long antennae.


This little guy is actually a meadow katydid or longhorned grasshopper (genus Conocephalus).

Meadow katydids don't sing the katy-did, katy-did of regular katydids. They tend to buzz or rattle, instead.

Here's an example of a common meadow katydid singing.

Did you notice one of its antennae was shorter? Likely it got broken off, which seems it could be a real hazard with such long ones.

Check out all the different meadow katydid songs at the Songs of Insects website including one that sounds like a lawn sprinkler.

Have you heard meadow katydids sing?

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Do you remember last week when I wrote that the grasshopper in the photograph inspired me to want to draw it?

grasshoppper-in-yard

Well, I did:

grasshopper-drawing-growingUnfortunately it did not scan well. However, drawing it allowed me to really see a number of details I had previously missed.

For example, take a look at the hind (jumping) leg. The segment that would be our thigh is called the femur in insects. Do you see the circular area at the top where the femur connects to the tibia (the area that would be our knee)? It is white and looks like a flange in the photograph. I wondered what that was when I was drawing it.

Checking out how grasshopper legs work, I found the authors had called it "the lump" at first, but if you keep reading by hitting the next arrows at the bottom, you will find out it is called the semi-lunar process and it is important for jumping. Basically it forms part of a catapult that shoots the grasshopper forward.  I highly recommend taking a look at the website. There are some very cool physics are involved, and even animations to show the legs working.

Have you drawn anything this week? What did you discover?

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Don't forget, National Moth Week is coming up July 20-28, 2013. We'll be going crazy for moths all next week!

 

Look who arrived in our back yard this week.

grashopper-still-in-yard

A grasshopper was resting on a plant.

grasshoppper-in-yard

Aren't the shapes and textures fascinating?

I'm feeling inspired to try my hand at some insect art. Fortunately, there are tutorials on how to do almost anything:

Grasshopper Drawing Lesson, an Exploring Nature Educational Resource

How to Draw a Grasshopper (page has numerous ads)

If you give insect art a try, let me know. I'll share the results next week.