Sunday, November 25, 2012

Grasshoppers!

With all due respect to you Lepidoptera- and Coleoptera-lovers out there, no insect delights me quite like a grasshopper. Firstly, the name says it all. Hopping is adorable, and as a species, we're irresistibly drawn to everything from rabbits, to kangaroos, to Seussian tales. As a mode of transportation it's far preferable to slithering, slinking, shuffling, and whatever it is slugs do. Why pogo sticks aren't more popular I don't think I'll ever understand. Ditto with potato sack races (Olympic Committee, are you reading this?).

Olive-green Swamp Grasshopper


Communing with an Olive-green Swamp Grasshopper

It's also a highly contagious behavior. Have you ever tried to catch a grasshopper? The only way to do it is to spring up and down as you chase after one. It's like you have to become the grasshopper in order to catch it. Maybe that's why I'm so fond of them, having cultivated an understanding with them through imitation. Well, that part is B.S., but I do envy them for their tremendous leaping ability and have no compunction about bounding after them no matter how silly I happen to look.

Obscure Birdwing Grasshopper

Southern Greenstriped Grasshopper

I will admit, however, that I'm a handsy naturalist. I hardly ever pass up the opportunity to study something up close, provided I can do it without risking the health of myself, the habitat, or the object itself. And looking through our recent photos, I seem to have a particular fascination with grasshoppers. Can you blame me -- they're just crazy-looking!

Melanoplus sp.

Look at this fella, for instance. The Eastern Lubber Grasshopper (Romalea guttata) is enormous (by grasshopper standards), sporting 90's-era neons of pink, yellow, and orange, and covered in armor. It also has a number of defense mechanisms, such as the ability to produce a noxious, foamy spray when it feels threatened (we were fast friends, though, so he didn't even think of using it on me). The lubber is master of his grassy domain by any standard.

Eastern Lubber Grasshopper



The large size of grasshoppers, and the relative ease (or at least fun) of taking them in the hand, make them a great study. I haven't begun a life list for them yet, but I think I may, as we get to know Savannah better, and as I better learn to identify local varieties. But you can bet that I'll be doing a good amount of hopping until then.

3 comments:

  1. Wow!!! I didn't know grasshoppers got that big... The Eastern Lubber is enormous, awesome!

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  2. are these known for girling small young trees

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