No matter where you may live as a collector chances are there are things which you have only seen but, one or twice in all the years of being there. These "chance encounters" are mighty special because they may be the only chance you might ever spy something which is a "rarity of a kind"....
Below, you will see 3 prime examples of the Great Lakes regions Northern Walkingstick (Diapheromera femorata). This phasmid is found in deciduous forests throughout North America where it eats many types of plant foliage. It is also one of the least seldom seen creatures of the insect world here. In all my many years of field collecting I have only encountered this species on but, two occasions. In fact I only discovered my specimens by happenstance.... whilst looking for treehoppers !
The species is as thin as a "sipping straw" used in a mixed drink. The whole adult creature measures about 5 1/2 to 5 3/4 inches in your hand. The whole of the body is stick colored "brown" with the forelegs entirely green whilst only the tibia and tarsi of the mid-hind legs are green. Astonishing ability to blend in. They move very slowly unless frightened or remain motionless when at rest.
My first photo shows my very 1st specimen ever collected.... in 1979. The second photo shows my only other 2 examples collected respectively together in 1987.
Another "chance encounter" of a rather rare or at least seldom seen insect was my experience with the Pigeon Horntail (Tremex columba). This Hymenopteran is a species native to the Eastern seaboard states. It is a species of Horntail (Siricidae) whose larvae feed on dead and dying trees such as beech, elm, maple, and oak.
On the particular occasion of this find (from my collection) I was a mere teenager of 16 years old in September 1977. On my way one afternoon back from my High school I spied a dying Dutch Elm tree located near to my old grammer school. I never really gave it much thought but, on this one particular day I took it upon myself to walk on over and really "look" at this sadly fading tree.
To my utter surprise I saw not one but, two of these insects resting on the bark of the tree. One was clearly "bored into" the trunk of the tree laying it's eggs and would never be extricated without damage. The second had apparently just lighted on the trunk and was still just resting. Nearby, I discovered a paper cup by the curbside and "gingerly' coaxed my captive into it whilst cupping my hand over the top. I dashed home and popped it in a kill bottle and here you have it in the picture.
That friends was 42 years ago and I still have not seen another yet.... They are still out there but, they are one of those "chance encounters" which few people ever experience...
I never collected any more at the same location as the Dutch Elm was sadly cut down but, two weeks later.
First - great preparation job on the phasmids and great job on managing to keep them intact for so long - talk about delicate! I've run into populations of Diapheromera a couple of times in north-central Ohio, about this time of year, on black locust trees. In each case, the adults were so numerous that the eggs dropping from females up in the foliage sounded like a light rain falling. Despite their apparent numbers, I could locate only a few specimens on the lower branches. If you can find a gravid female, these can be kept very easily in captivity - on multiflora rose in the summer, and then on pyracantha in the winter.
Second - the pigeon horntail is a great example of a common species that makes itself seem invisible in the field. I've encountered less than 6 in the field over the last 40+ years, two of which were males. However, I have seen several hundred in Lindgren funnel trap samples from traps baited with Sirex-combo lures designed to attract the invasive Sirex noctilio. But even in the traps, the males seem to be rare, with 1 male showing up for about every 100 females. It could be that the males do not respond to the lures to the same degree as the females.
Finally - are you any relation to Floyd G. Werner, the famous Meloidae worker? I think he worked on a variety of other taxa in Arizona as well...