Readers’ wildlife photographs

August 14, 2014 • 4:47 am

Reader Mike McDowell introduces himself and send some swell photos from two groups of insects I love. They include some of the most bizarre-looking creatures on Earth.

I’m a nature photographer, field trip leader, citizen scientist, and regular reader of your blog [JAC: He’s a n00b so I’ll forgive him that].

My primary subjects are birds (I’m a birder), but I also enjoy macro photography of insects and wildflowers. I thought your readers might get a kick out of the hopper photography I’ve been doing this summer. Here are some examples you are welcome to publish on your blog:

Gear: Nikon 1 V1 & Tamron 60mm 1:1 Macro Lens

I’m fairly confident on the ID of these, but feel free to correct me if I’ve made an error.

Mike has his own website and photo gallery (“Digiscoping”), both of which you can see here.

Today we have leafhoppers, members of the family Cicadellidae in the insect order Hemiptera (“true bugs”), and treehoppers, in the closely related family MembracidaeClick all photos to enlarge (twice to make them huge):


Red-banded Leafhopper – Graphocephala coccinea:


Citrus flatid Planthopper – Metcalfa pruinosa:


Buffalo Treehopper – Stictocephala bisonia:


Treehopper – Telamona decorata:


Two-horned Treehopper – Ceresa diceros [JAC: check out the pattern in the eye]:


Treehopper – Archasia auriculata:



30 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photographs

  1. Leaf hoppers are the cutest of the hoppers. I love their weird mouths. Mike – how do you manage to get these photos without the hoppers hopping away? I find macro photography of insects very challenging in this respect, especially if you are dealing with a shallow depth of field.

  2. Are they closely related to grasshoppers or is there no immediate connection?

    And awesome photos, Mike!

    1. Leafhoppers and planthoppers: Order Hemiptera (formerly Homoptera, but it was assimilated; resistance was futile). Grasshoppers: Order Orthoptera. No close relationship.

              1. That’s a very apt description of their unpredictable, sudden, boing-like movements, Diana! Spring-loaded! Darnedest things to catch, and they can do a lot of damage to plant leaves. But I never worry about these little insects anymore; I’ve learned to ‘share’. Even started a bed of milkweed for the Monarch butterflies. However, I’m always on the look out for emerald ash borers, tent caterpillars and the like.

  3. Beautiful photos! I wish I had a Nikon 1 V1 with a Tamron 60mm 1:1 Macro Lens. I would be outside on my stomach all the time.

    1. Nowadays you can get similar photos with a cheap pocket camera and a Raynox close-up lens, and a piece of translucent plastic bag to diffuse the flash. Andreas Kay (who has had his photos posted here on WEIT last year) taught me this. I followed his directions and it works! Total equipment cost <$200.

      Note to pro photographers: Yes, I know a good expensive large-sensor camera and lens allows much greater enlargement, etc. My point applies only to photos for web distribution.

  4. Hello!

    Thanks for the feedback!

    Where: All of the hoppers were photographed at either Pheasant Branch Conservancy in Middleton, WI, or Spring Green Preserve in Spring Green, WI.

    How: Search appropriate habitat (esp. plants and bushes with thorns) early in the morning when it’s still cool; they are less active then.

    I’m glad you like the photos! It’s hard work, but a ton of fun!

    Mike McDowell

    1. Lovely photos, Mike! You nailed it: the last thing I expected when I took up close-up photography is how strenuous it is. Whooda thunk it?

      BTW, a word to the wise, largely because I hope you keep sending your images to Professor Ceiling Cat for our delectation, WEIT is most definitely not a bl*g. It’s a website, and the good Professor is punctilious about such details.

      1. Yes. We shared an email discussion regarding the distinction.

        Alas, it is a website.

        However, it does say “this bl*g” in the upper-left in the email subscription section.

        I also provided him with google search string results:

        “jerry coyne’s website”

        About 17,700 results (0.38 seconds)

        “jerry coyne’s bl*g”

        About 92,800 results (0.38 seconds)

        He was unimpressed.

        So, let me repeat so I’m clear …

        This is Jerry Coyne’s website.

        It is not a blog.

        Mike M.

        1. I didn’t write the bl*g designation; WordPress did. And the Roolz clearly advise readers to humor me about this, seeing it simply as a charming peccadillo.

          People who want to adduce arguments and stats that it’s really a bl*g are trying to be DICTIONARY COMMENTERS. Besides, I hate the word “bl*g” and don’t want to hear it.

          Trust me; just humor me on this.

          1. I love this sentence, “Besides, I hate the word “bl*g” and don’t want to hear it” because it reminds me so much of how my friend hates the word, “w00t”. I can imagine her saying these exact words about “w00t”.

  5. Really nice shots Mike. Those are some cool looking hoppers. Out here in Washington I don’t think we have many varieties…or perhaps I’m not looking hard enough. Thanks for sharing!

  6. What fantastic pictures of incredible insects!

    Love the pair of simple eyes that shows between the large eyes in most shots. And these critters have the strangest looking tarsal claws (if that’s what they are)–all swollen, looking more like suction cups.

  7. Well, if g-d made those s(h)e was either high or entertaining his nieces and nephews or maybe just doodling.

  8. These are wonderful photographs.

    Or what is it about the genetic structure of these critters that makes such effusive(?) diversity possible.?
    Anyone have any ideas or information? It’ a long way from beak sizes in finches.

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