coming apart at the seams

Yesterday, an hour or so before sunset, I went for a walk in the fields to check for signs of life on the milkweed plants. Apart from the Monarch caterpillars, I had a couple of interesting finds.

The first was a Katydid in the process of molting – click on the above photo for a much larger view. Whenever I find a molting grasshopper or katydid, they always look a bit uncomfortable — as though they are struggling to peel off a pair of very tight leotards. They hang upside down, slowly extricating themselves from their exuviae, before moving off to spend some time resting. In the past, I’ve noticed that grasshopper legs seem sort of rubbery and wobbly right after they molt. I guess it probably takes awhile for them to dry out and harden after the molt.

The other find was an Oblong Running Crab spider (Tibellus oblongus) with an egg case. Any time I see a wrinkled or folded milkweed leaf, I check it to see if there is a spider egg case hidden beneath. Several species of spiders seem to choose milkweed leaves for securing their egg cases. I suppose that it’s a practical choice — milkweed plants are often loaded with all kinds of insects, so a good potential “hunting ground” for the spiders, and later on, for their young. As I’ve written about several times before, I have a particular interest in female spiders that guard their egg cases and young spiderlings. This is one of the species that I most often find, engaged in egg case guarding behaviour.

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8 Responses to “coming apart at the seams”

  1. Cicero Sings Says:

    Lovely picture of that Katydid molt! Amazing to think that big thing came out of that little shell!

  2. robin andrea Says:

    Fantastic molting shot, bev. I can’t even begin to imagine the impetus or effort to slough off a transitional stage of life. Although, I think it would make human life interesting if we had such obvious phases.

    Love that oblong running crab spider. What a beauty.

  3. Duncan Says:

    Great shots Bev, good to see you posting, best wishes to you and Don.

  4. wren Says:

    Wow – how do you these pics so consistently?

  5. Mike Says:

    Your eye for insects and arachnids constantly amazes me, bev. Thanks for sharing this improbable shot!

  6. bev Says:

    Cicero – That’s one of the most amazing things about insect molts. How does such a large insect come out of such small exuviae?!

    robin – I really liked that running crab too. She had created quite the little egg case.

    Duncan – Thanks! Good to see you dropping by for a visit! (-:

    wren – Thanks! I’m not quite sure how to respond, but I guess that a lot of it is just luck and plenty of practice!

    Mike – Thanks! And yes, “improbable” is a good way to describe the katydid molt shot.

  7. Paula Says:

    I found a baby katydid today and googled “katydid molting”…your beautiful pictures came up! I love your website and photos. Thanks for your citizen science links. I will check in again!

  8. Wayne Says:

    Excellent shot of the katydid. It really looks like it’s straining to get out of its old skin!

    I’ve also taken to peeling apart stuck-together leaves. There’s almost always some kind of treasure inside, and that’s a pretty running crab you found (that seems to be what I’m finding too, these days).

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