Mormon Cricket: Anabrus simplex

The Mormon cricket is actually not a true cricket, but rather a shield-backed katydid. The common name derives from an invasion of the crops of Mormon settlers in the Salt Lake area in the mid-1800s.

We ran across plenty of these katydids on a recent hike although not in the numbers depicted in this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yy3dQJYquoY. While these insects can be quite destructive to crops they do eat the grasses and plants in natural rangelands much as large grazing mammals do (or did). I also find them quite interning to look at as each has subtle color variations.

Given these were not marching across our hiking trail in plague proportions I enjoyed seeing them on a late fall afternoon moving through the already dry grasses.

A job well done

The other day I saw a yellow flash land in a nice cedar tree. Thinking it was an unusual insect I quickly went over to get a look. Alas, it was not a new insect but a Honey Bee and to say this one was covered in pollen might be an understatement. This little bee could hard fly with the load they had acquired. After a few minutes of rest they slowly lifted off and headed back to the hive. A job well done.

Inching along

Inching along from top of the plant down enjoying a meal along the way.

Caterpillars seemed so common in my youth but even while out and about most every day their numbers seem small. Perhaps it’s our location but maybe not. We were excited to find two species inching along on a late fall day. Both similar yet very distinct.

So mysterious and wonderful these creatures seem in a life of transformations.

Inching along until their next incarnation.

Mantid Sunday

We typically see only a few Preying Mantis each summer either while out hiking or in our garden. Last week, while out on a hike, we saw numerous Mantids and each one matched the specific grasses they resided in. The Mantid above was in grasses that were a mix of green and brown and the Mantid was green and brown.

While the Mantid above resided in fresh green grass.

This Mantids above were right at home in a field of brown.

We even got a look at one Mantid hanging upside down.

Photographed in Denver, CO

ants in the plants

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Granted no one wants ants in the pants but ants in the plants is another thing all together.  One a fine summer day the ants were just as abundant as the wildflowers along the trail from the Rocky Mountain Penstemon pictured above to…

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the Townsends daisies and Larkspur…

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and the Painted Brush.

It’s not so bad to to have ants in the plants.