agile meadow katydid
Orchelimum agile


Female eating caterpillar, Sarasota County, Florida.
Photograph by Harry McVay, McVay Florida Art, by permission.

How the photograph was made
(from an account by Harry McVay)

Several years ago I was hiking in a wetland in Myakka River State Park with camera in hand and noticed a certain grasshopper chewing on a section of folded back grassblade. When I was a kid I would catch and hold grasshoppers in the palm of my hand. Mostly what happened was getting "tobacco juice" stain on my palm. However, one type of grasshopper would bite and could draw blood. The one I was observing looked like the biting type. Also when I was a kid, I would investigate the folded leaf huts constructed by insects to discover which bug had made them. I remember carefully opening the three-sided folded grassblade huts. Either a spider would leap out, scaring me, or I found a worm (caterpillar).

As the grasshopper busily chewed into the three-sided hut, I observed by looking through a 300mm telephoto lens with a macro feature. Bright sunlight and dark backdrop (shaded oak hammock) provided good lighting. To my amazement, when the grasshopper chewed a hole in the hut, the worm tried to escape but was grabbed by the back of the head and hauled out. The grasshopper positioned itself above on the grass stem and chewed and ate the caterpillar.