I just wanted to say that it's grasshopper and cicada season where I live now. There so many grasshoppers that if I walk in any patch of dry sand and rock, anywhere from 10 to 100's of them start jumping at once and just cascade and fly into my face and I love them so much. What neat grasshopper facts do you have?
It’s grasshopper season here, too! I’m a bit of a grasshopper dunce, but I do still know some neat grasshopper facts.
One of my favorites is about grasshoppers vs. locusts. They’re essentially the same thing! There are some species of grasshoppers that will turn into massive swarms if they get too crowded, and they will destroy everything they will find. Some researchers looked into this, and it turns out, brushing their hind legs releases serotonin in their brains, and that’s what causes their behavioral changes! [link to LiveScience article]
Another grasshopper fact, which I discovered by obsessively photographing every bug I see and then having people identify them for me on iNaturalist, is that… the same species can come in MANY different forms! Here are are bunch of photos of Short-winged Green Grasshoppers:
Thing is, when I first encountered this species name, I assumed all of them would have… short wings… and that they would maybe, be green? NOPE!!! There is a LONG WINGED form (See the babe in the top left? Long wings!) And I don’t think I need to point out the ones that aren’t green. These are ALL THE SAME SPECIES! Don’t believe me? Bottom left corner, a green lady is mating with a brown gentleman. Definition of species, right?
Grasshoppers are so good at camouflaging, holy carp. Take these Aztec Grasshoppers for example. There are two in the photo. This is at Bastrop State Park, where some of the dirt is red from the iron content:
Or what about this Broad-horned Grasshopper I saw in Malawi?
And while we’re in Malawi, I HAVE TO SHARE this Gaudy fellow (seriously, the family is commonly called “Gaudy grasshoppers), a Dictyophorus sp. babe I saw hiding out in plain sight on a Cycad, which I didn’t see until I’d been staring at a wasp for several minutes:
Coming back to Texas, I’ve seen SEMI-AQUATIC GRASSHOPPERS???? NO REALLY, THEY WERE ALL SWIMMING ON PURPOSE, AND THAT’S THEIR THING????? I still don’t know wtf these things are besides pygmy grasshoppers.
Showy Grasshoppers (that’s their name!) that look like aliens:
Aztec spur-throat grasshopper nymphs that look like candies:
The Bird grasshoppers, named because, I presume, they are so huge they are mistaken for birds when they fly:
One of my fondest grasshoppers memories, though, was of this Red-shanked Grasshopper, who was waiting outside my building at UT Austin when I was a grad student. I was leaving my lab late one night (1 am! Hey, I said I was a grad student!), and he was just waiting for me. I wasn’t a naturalist quite yet, this was 2014. So I did what came naturally to me when faced with a giant grasshopper:
Grasshoppers are awesome! I hope you get to meet some fun ones!
July 6, 2019