Readers’ wildlife photographs

Reader Lou Jost, a biologist, naturalist, and photographer living in Ecuador, sent some photos from the Tambopata National Reserve in the Peruvian Amazon. His notes are indented, and this is just part one of a two-part series of orthopterans.

At the Tambopata Research Center we got up around 4:30 am most days, and evenings after dinner there were often talks, so we had little time to explore the forest at night. But one night before bed I couldn’t resist exploring for an hour. In that hour I found so many things that I only managed to advance about 20 meters from the lodge.

Orthoptera (Grasshoppers, katydids, and crickets); most of the these don’t merit individual captions since I know nothing at all about them!










  1. GBJames
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    Nice shots, Lou!

    • Posted October 18, 2016 at 7:52 am | Permalink

      Thanks. This is just the tip of the iceberg, there were so many species that night…

  2. Posted October 18, 2016 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    Fascinating! Thank you.

  3. rickflick
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    You’re brief exploration in the night was an exciting adventure. It reminds me of the excitement in discovering new worlds – Star Trek, Darwin on the Beagle, the first time I set off into the tall weeds when I was a boy.

    • Posted October 18, 2016 at 9:02 am | Permalink

      That’s what it felt like to this 58 year old boy…

  4. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    I am forest-green with envy, seeing that you are unable to venture far on a bug hunt owing to there being so many bugs. Up here, the tilt of the earth means we are entering autumn, and my arthropods are either dying in droves or hunkering down for a long winter. Fields are falling silent, and the sweet smell of plant senescence and death is everywhere.

    Still, among your pictures are some startling examples of species that resemble ours up here near the tundra. You have a katydid that very much resembles our broad-winged katydid, and just below that a meadow katydid that could be plunked into a field up here and passed unnoticed, as it resembles ours except for a few tiny differences.

    • Posted October 18, 2016 at 9:28 am | Permalink

      In the next installment there will be some more unusual katydids, but yes, the insect life of the temperate zone is also very impressive, if one makes an effort to look at it. Some groups even seem more diverse and interesting in the temperate zone. Tiger beetles for example.

    • Posted October 18, 2016 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      I wonder if the grass around the lodge hosts a guild of grasshoppers more closely related to temperate ones, or maybe some of these are even the same species. Most of the true grasshopper species were at the edge of the forest in the grass, unlike the forest-dwelling katydids.

      • Mark Sturtevant
        Posted October 18, 2016 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

        I have not thought of it before, but it seems reasonable that different groups of orthopterans prefer different kinds of plant hosts. Grasshoppers in the grass, katydids on the decidious plants, and so on.
        Just anecdotally, when I keep grasshoppers they are generally not enthusiastic about eating the leaves I give them unless its grass.

        • Posted October 18, 2016 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

          And tropical rainforests are not known for their abundant grasses! I think it is quite possible that grasshopper centers of evolution are primarily temperate or dry areas. The species I found here might well have evolved somewhere else.

  5. Mark R.
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Great photos. Would you consider any of these species crickets? I thought the tan one (6th photo down) looked ‘crickety’.

    • Posted October 18, 2016 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      I think that is a katydid and I am pretty sure it is a juvenile of the one above it. Crickets and katydids are closely related and blend into one another, with tree crickets looking a bit like katydids. All are distinguished from grasshoppers by their long antennae.

      Here is an amazing site for IDs of North American Orthoptera:

      • Mark R.
        Posted October 18, 2016 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the added info and link Lou!

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