Spot the insects: a double header!

We have two photos for today’s “Spot the ___” feature, so Readers’ Wildlife will resume tomorrow. I’ll give a reveal at 1:30 p.m. Chicago time. If you spot the beasts, you can laud yourself in the comments, but please don’t tell the other readers where they are.

First we have a photo from reader Barn Owl in suburban San Antonio, Texas; you’ll have to enlarge it—and good luck!

I’ve attached a photo of the crape myrtle in my backyard that includes one semi-cryptic walkingstick.  I think it’s a Giant Walkingstick (Megaphasma dentricus), but not sure (I’ve also attached a close-up photo of the insect, in case anyone doubts that it’s really an animal and not just part of the tree).  This one might be too easy for your readers! [JAC: M. dentricus is America’s longest insect.]


And the second test: a photo from reader Gabe McNett. His notes:

Whenever I am out hiking and looking for insects I am often amazed at how easily some individuals can disappear right in front of me. Even when I try to stalk them to get a better view, I struggle. One example might be banded-wing grasshoppers, the common grasshoppers in xeric, grassy habitats that burst off in flight in front of you, often accompanied with a buzzing sound, and then land again a short distance away beautifully camouflaged. The moth in this picture is another great example. It combined behavior (quick to startle and erratic flight) and cryptic wing coloration to disappear repeatedly a meter in front of me. Even after taking the picture I had to deliberately startle it on the tree to find where it had landed, then look in the corresponding spot in the picture that I had just taken. (NOTE: To find it, readers might find it easiest to download the photo, then zoom and pan).

I presume this is a type of grass moth (Crambidae). However, the crambids are a huge, variable family very closely aligned to the snout moths (Pyralidae), another large, variable family. For a long time the crambids were lumped into the Pyralidae, and I’m sure there are many lumpers still out there. The families are distinguished by internal structures related to the ear, so I’ll leave more specific identification of this individual to the experts. Sorry for the poor quality close-up picture in the inset. The moth was too ‘flighty’ for me to get close enough with my cell phone.

Spot the grass moth_1


  1. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    Walking stick was spotted quickly. But the moth was not spotted quickly. That took some doing.

    • ratabago
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 8:21 am | Permalink

      Yep. The walking stick leapt out at me, but even after enlarging the moth took some careful scanning.

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:51 am | Permalink

      Same here.

  2. Jonathan Wallace
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Is the moth round the other side of the tree?!

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      My feeling too.

      (The stick insect was fairly easy, I think. That is, if the thing I spotted is in fact the stick insect. But I can see nothing that remotely resembles a moth)


  3. Diane G.
    Posted July 12, 2016 at 12:36 am | Permalink

    I know the answer is up now, but I’m looking at this post first–like everyone else, I thought the stick insect was fairly easy; but I’m giving up on the moth!

    Thanks Barn Owl & Gabe!

    • Gabe McNett
      Posted July 12, 2016 at 5:52 am | Permalink

      You’re welcome Diane! Imagine my frustration as I stood right in front of that tree over the weekend. I kept seeing that moth fly from the tree and land again right in front of me, and I still couldn’t find it.

      • Diane G.
        Posted July 13, 2016 at 1:12 am | Permalink

        I hate to say this, Gabe, but if you were a bird you probably wouldn’t survive…

        I’m going to be on the lookout for this phenomenon myself, now.

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