I admit I sometimes don’t pay attention until it’s too late. Usually it’s because I’m lost in thought or watching something else, and then I suddenly realize an interesting thing has slipped by unnoticed. So it was last October…
Late in the afternoon while standing on the patio, thick clouds casting shadows on everything, I stared off into space and found myself quite out of touch with reality. I wasn’t even listening to the birds or watching the sky; I was just standing, almost daydreaming but not quite, almost asleep but not quite. I don’t even remember what was on my mind, if anything. Basically I spaced out.
At the other end of the patio, about 30 feet/ten meters away, a dark shape emerged from behind the tree and climbed the brick wall. I was aware of the movement; I just didn’t turn to look at it. I couldn’t focus that much thought.
After the large critter moved up about ten feet/three meters, I shook myself free from the mental fog I was in. That’s when I finally decided that maybe I was missing something interesting. So I looked.
About one inch/25 mm long, even from a distance it was obvious I was looking at one of the less common fulgorid planthoppers in Texas. In fact, from where I stood it looked so much like a cockroach (albeit a relatively small one) that I questioned the planthopper ID as soon as it entered my mind. But then I discarded that question and assured myself that it was a hopper.
Even in the deep shadows cast by the tree, I was able to capture some photos that show the insect’s patterns and colors. But a few photos were all I had time to shoot because the hopper climbed steadily and quickly vanished over the roof. And because it was already so high on the wall by the time I looked, the only respectable photos I could take were from across the patio since getting closer produced images like this (or worse).
I realized when I reviewed the images that I’d never seen this species before. So I set about researching it. All to no avail. I couldn’t find a single ID for it, though I admit I didn’t spend nearly enough time trying to find one. Eventually I set it aside for later review.
Then I forgot about it. For months. Which I’m prone to do because I take so many photos that anything not processed immediately gets lost amongst the thousands of photos that never see the light of day. So in steps a dead camera. Without more photos coming in, I finally wandered the backlog of pictures and rediscovered this handsome yet unidentified hopper.
This time it took me all of five minutes to identify it. Though it has no common name, it’s a Poblicia texana.
I only wish I hadn’t been in such an out-of-touch frame of mind. I had so distant an attachment to the world at that moment that I didn’t even check or change the camera settings. For a dSLR, it was a point-and-shoot moment.