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Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

A baby Stick Insect stuck to my head

Stick insects can "stick". Well, at least they can "grab hold" of one's head very successfully. 

Yesterday I was out at Medway, looking for signs of the Corunastylis sagittifera (Orchid) species which I have previously seen there. I found one small flower, severely deformed, because the stem had shrivelled at the base. This reminds me of  a fungal problem seen in many domestic "ornamental plants", including my beloved Peonies. But I know nothing more about it than that. I shall merely "report" the occurrence.
Corunastylis sagittifera, not fully open.
But while lying on the ground, to get the photographs, something quite large grabbed hold of my hair and my ear.

Now, I find such uninvited attention, from an unknown insect somewhat alarming.

I swept my hand across the side of my head, and watched to see what was knocked off (expecting a bloody great spider).

I found a harmless-looking green insect, which I assumed was a Katydid (simply because I guessed that it was not a Grasshopper). It has very small mouth parts, and small rounded eyes. (Have you ever noticed how Grasshoppers tend to have oval eyes, often set on a slight diagonal angle?)

So, I decided to take its photograph, and started by encouraging it to climb onto the base of my walking stick.
Podacanthus nymph (Stick Insect) on my walking stick.
It was remarkably cooperative with my endeavours to photograph it. No self-respecting Grasshopper would do that.

I had first wondered if it might have been a Katydid of the group of Katydids known as "Phasmodes" (even though they are reported only from Western Australia).

My fellow Blogger, and supposedly "retired" entomologist (they never do "retire" of course) Dave Rentz advised me: "It’s probably a nymph of a Podacanthus species. Of which there are a number in your area."

Thanks Dave, for setting me straight.

It still leaves me puzzling why it is that darned insects often look like other insects, even of different tribes (orders)? 

I placed the Podacanthus nymph on a Lomatia bush.
Podacanthus nymph got very excited, and waved at me.

Podacanthus nymph, with fine "tail end", and long legs.

Head of this Podacanthus nymph
We parted on good terms, and I waved it goodbye.

Thanks again to Dave Rentz for his willingness to share his knowledge.
Such assistance is greatly appreciated.


mick said...

If you are "lying on the ground" to get your photos your hip must be getting better! That's great! BUT if you run the risk of having creepy crawlies getting even on your head when you get your photos I think I will stay with photographing birds out on the nice clean sand or water!! Oh yes, the photos of the stick insect were great!

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mick
You are right about interpreting my new-found freedom of movement.
And probably right about preferring to stick with your sand and water.
Mind you, I keep hearing about nearly invisible sea-lice, etc, so not sure about there being nothing to bite you out there.
The insect was quite pretty, in a subdued kind of way. Very elegant.

catmint said...

I once had a stick insect stick to my hand and I got a fright - your experience is worse, but worth it to get such wonderful pics. (another meaning of stick - lol). Such a friendly chap though. I hold Dave Rentz in awe - to me insects present a thrilling sight but impossibly challenging sights for id. Still, I'm a novice, the only way to go is up.

Tyto Tony said...

Walking stick. Stick insect! Nature knows what it's doing. So, many things look like something equally successful.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Catmint and Tony
Stick Insects are great interest value, but this one confused me, as it was the size of a skinny Grasshopper (with extra long legs).
Good for punsters, though.

Mac_fromAustralia said...

Wonderful photos.

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Mac.
Good to see you "caching up" with a few posts. We all have days like that.