Reader’s wildlife photo (and video)

As I reported, Andreas Kay, a superb photographer of Ecuadorian biodiversity, died last October at the young age of 56.  It was a tragic loss, but he left behind a big legacy: nearly 30,000 unpublished photos of insects and plants from Andean Ecuador. These were inherited by reader Lou Jost, a biologist who inhabits a field station in the Ecuadorian rainforest. Lou has promised to send samples of Andreas’s photos from time to time, so we’ll be able to enjoy them and remember the man.

What I didn’t know until Lou wrote last is that Andreas took videos as well, and very good ones (you can see his YouTube site here). Two days ago Lou sent me one of Andreas’s photos and a link to a video of the insect in the picture. First, the photo with Andreas’s caption:

These moss mimic Stick Insects (Trychopeplus thaumasius?) were filmed at Finca Palmonte near Baños in the cloud forest of Ecuador. During daytime they hang nearly imperceptible between moss covered twigs and only become active at night to feed on leaves. They not only look like moss but even move like waving in the wind. 

Can you spot it?

Now look at the video and see how the thing moves erratically. It shows that natural selection for mimicry can operate not just on appearance, but also on behavior. (Sound up).

Also from Andreas:

Watch two other videos of this species: https://youtu.be/vZPVeJhld_I and https://youtu.be/xCqqnu2Xk2M

I can’t help but add Andreas’s post from Facebook (forwarded by Lou) when he knew he was dying of a brain tumor. It always makes me tear up. A naturalist to the end. . .

12 Comments

  1. Posted February 16, 2020 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    Incredible. I only barely spotted the walking stick in the picture b/c I knew it was in there somewhere.
    Thank you, Lou, for sharing these.

    • Posted February 16, 2020 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

      There are two of them in the picture, Mark!

  2. Debra Coplan
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    Phenomenal creatures. I love how they move so bouncy, like wind is influencing them.
    Thank you!

  3. rickflick
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    This must be what magic and miraculous mean. Who would not feel the greatest joy to see this?

  4. ploubere
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Amazing. Very sad that Andreas passed away so young.

  5. Posted February 16, 2020 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    I met a walking, breeze waving stick by my back deck (it was a little exposed so I placed it back in the bush) a fascinating little interaction it was,

  6. loren russell
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    The model background seems more likely to be leafy liverworts [Jungermanniales], but the mosses and ferns dominating this scene match well enough!.

    • Posted February 16, 2020 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

      That’s quite right, and the “mosses” dominating teh scene are in fatc leafy liverworts with small leaves.

  7. Posted February 17, 2020 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Do treehoppers hop *between* trees or *on* them?

  8. Posted February 17, 2020 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing Andreas’s gems, Lou!


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