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.