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Hopping critters of our garden

Hop hop hop!

Grasshoppers, crickets, katydids, and similar insects. Interesting creatures...


The song of this blacklegged meadow katydid (Orchelimum nigripes, or perhaps Orchelimum pulchellum) carries all through our yard, and seems to be close by no matter where I happen to be wandering. But there is only one male around, and that's the one pictured here.

black-legged meadow katydid orchelimum nigripes
This immature katydid was lounging on a persicaria in our side garden for days, its wings getting slightly more defined every day. After not much action in the development area for nearly two weeks, all of a sudden overnight a major transformation – to the handsome one in the photo below. It's most likely a greater angle-wing katydid, Microcentrum rhombifolium
Meconema thalassinum: drumming katydid


This jittery fellow is a drumming katydid (Meconema thalassinum). He belongs to the quiet-calling katydids, and sure enough, I didn't hear him calling at all. Ben caught him in our back lawn one evening. It's good to have a bug boy around!
Meconema thalassinum Scudderia katydid nymphm


Spotted this little dude on a Filipendula leaf one early-June morning. His stripey antennae suggest that it's a nymph of a Scudder's bush katydid (Scudderia) species. I don't believe I've come across its adult form yet (I guess I should be on the lookout).
Pennsylvania, June 2012 Scudderia katydid nymph

And here's another one, quite possibly from the same species (but a more advanced instar). Like the one above, I found it in early June, this one on an eglantine rose.
Pennsylvania, June 2014 orchelimum katydid

The first katydid I spotted in Texas was trilling in a mass of Turnera ulmifolia one October afternoon as I was digging a new border nearby. It was good to be serenaded, and he sat pretty for a picture too. It's a species of Orchelimum, I can't be sure which one.
Texas, October 2018 scudderia katydid nymph

As was the case in Pennsylvania, I seem to find the nymphs but not the adults of Scudderia katydids. This one was sunning itself on a luxuriant rose flower in mid-April, not at all intent to move as I snapped its photo from various angles.
Texas, April 2021

Planthoppers and their ilk

Diminutive critters with amazing jumping powers. Many don't look like much until you see them up close with the advantage of macro photography.
Tiny thing spotted on a goldfinch heuchera - not until seeing the digital photo did I really know he looked so cool. It's probably an Acanalonia conica, or flatid planthopper (don't you love the name?).
Pennsylvania, July 2004
Colladonus clitellarius: planthopper

Another little colorful one, this one hanging out on a butterfly milkweed. It's a saddled leafhopper (Colladonus clitellarius), not one I've seen a lot of in our garden.
Pennsylvania, June 2014

spittlebug Philaenus spumarius A meadow spittlebug decided my knee was just the place to be.
Pennsylvania, August 2004
Very colorful little thing, this red-banded or candy-striped leafhopper (Graphocephala coccinea) – although it takes a close-up view to really appreciate it. Apparently, this one feeds on a wide variety of garden plants, and doesn't usually cause serious damage.
Pennsylvania, September 2004
planthopper coelidia olitoria Another not-too-bright-looking planthopper, this one most likely a specimen of Coelidia olitoria.
Pennsylvania, July 2005
My first leafhopper spotting in Texas – this glassy-winged sharpshooter (Homalodisca vitripennis) is a good bit larger than the little hoppers above. I found it lounging (for hours) on the trunk of a fig tree. It's native to here; in California, where it was accidentally introduced, it's a significant pest of vineyards, due to its propensity for spreading bacterial disease.
Texas, June 2017
glassy-winged sharpshooter (Homalodisca vitripennis)
speckled sharpshooter (Paraulicizes irrorata) Another Texan find, the speckled sharpshooter (Paraulicizes irrorata) is actually distributed across a wide swath of eastern North America up through Canada. I found this one resting on a Duranta leaf one hot mid-day in June. By the time I realized its photo had come out fuzzy, he had vacated the premises.
two-lined spittlebug (Prosapia bicincta)

This red-eyed demon is a two-lined spittlebug (Prosapia bicincta), found lounging on a columbine one spring afternoon. I'm not sure what it was doing there, because my sources say adults feed on hollies and redbuds (while their younguns prefer to munch on grasses).
Texas, May 2022


I hear you, but where are you? That's usually what I think when I hear boy crickets singing, but once in a while I'm patient enough to spot one and take its picture. The results of those efforts are shown here.

Phyllopalpus pulchellus female Phyllopalpus pulchellus couple Phyllopalpus pulchellus nymph

As small as it is, the red-headed bush cricket (Phyllopalpus pulchellus) is one of the primary noise-makers in our garden in late summer and fall. I came upon the couple pictured above one morning in fall – the male is clearly singing as pretty as he can, the female is approaching from behind. When the guy spotted me, he stormed off indignantly. The one at left is a nymph -- no wings have developed yet.
Unidentified female bush cricket (maybe Say's trig - see below) sitting on the paulownia tree of love. brown bush cricket
Anaxipha exigua: Say's trig

This is a female Say's trig (Anaxipha exigua), a small species that usually hides itself well enough not to be seen. Several of them were sitting in our large Viburnum trilobum one sunny day in autumn. Hapithus sp.: flightless bush cricket

I was sitting at the kitchen table one November afternoon, cleaning seeds from a bundle of seedheads I had gathered, when I noticed this cricket had emerged from the plant material. She sat very quietly, even after I moved her back outside, and made for an excellent photo subject. Most likely a species of Hapithus, the flightless bush crickets. Hapithus agitator: restless bush cricket

Another member of the Hapithus family, this one a male – most likely H. agitator (a.k.a. the restless bush cricket). It was hiding in some swiss chard I had harvested, in late August. You can really see the yellow rim around its wing structures in this picture.


Unidentified grass-hopping youngster (here spotted on a blade of siberian iris)
Two differential grassphoppers (Melanoplus differentialis) having at it. The big mama stuck around for several more days, the little daddy was gone soon afterwards. Melanoplus differentialis grasshoppers mating
Schistocerca damnifica male grasshopper

First grasshopper I've managed to commit to film (of the digital variety) in Texas. It's a male Schistocerca damnifica in the clan of bird grasshoppers, which also includes the biblical locusts. I like its stripey eyes.

Texas, December 2017 Schistocerca obscura bird grasshopper

Another bird grasshopper spotted a few years later, this is an obscure bird grasshopper (Schistocerca obscura). The ladies reach greater sizes than the gents, so since this was quite a large specimen, I'm thinking it was a girl. But she was shy and didn't sit for better photos, so I can't be sure. Wavey-striped eyes on this one, too.
Texas, July & August 2021

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