Currently viewing the category: "Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers"
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Subject: south-african grasshopper
Location: South-Africa
August 2, 2014 3:23 am
Hello bugman,
This grasshopper I photographed in the second half of January 2005 in South-Africa. I already saw many pictures of Milkweed Grasshoppers and Toxic Foam Grasshoppers, but what really is different I think, is that the one I photographed was at least 15 cm long and what I mostly see in pictures are far smaller ones. Anyway, let me know what you think.
Kind regards, Hanny Keulers
Signature: Hanny Keulers

Koppie Foam Grasshopper

Bushlocust:  Phymateaus morbillosus

Dear Hanny,
This is one of the Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers in the family Pyrgomorphidae, and we believe it is a Koppie Foam Grasshopper,
Dictyophorus spumans.  As you can see from the images on ISpot, this is a highly variable species and indications are that there are numerous subspecies.  The Grasshoppers feed on Milkweed, and they are able to store the toxins, which makes them at the very least unpalatable, and at worst, toxic if ingested.  Even though the coloring is highly variable, the coloration is generally aposomatic or warning coloration, which helps predators to remember an unfavorable taste or reaction if another individual is encountered at a later time.  

Correction
Dear Daniel,
Having continued my own search, I have meanwhile been able to identify my locust with 100% certainty as a Phymateaus Morbillosus, very colourful and beautiful. What I still am wondering about is the size. Can an adult locust reach a total length of 15 cm.? Thanks for your help anyway, I also add a picture for your website.
Kind regards, Hanny Keulers

Hi again Hanny,
Thanks for getting back to us on this identification.  We are going to try to find credible links to
Phymateaus morbillosus.  The first one we located is on the Catalogue of South African Insects, but there is no further description there other than identifying it as a species of Bushlocust, another name for Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers in the family Pyrgomorphidae, which was our initial point of departure.  ISpot verifies that and provides the common name Common Milkweed Locust.  We even located this individual from our own archives.  Additionally, we located a mating pair of Common Milkweed Locusts on our site that were only identified to the family level.  Thank you for your valuable contribution to our site.  The size you indicate, nearly six inches long, is not something we are able to verify at this time.  There are Grasshoppers that attain that size, most notably Tropidacris dux from Central and South America which is picture on God Of Insects.

Hello Daniel,
You get the most hits under its Latin name Phymateus Morbillosus.
In general one should always go for the (scientific) Latin names of plants and animals,
because with the names in other languages < anything goes > and most
descriptions are foklore..
Regards, Hanny Keulers

Thank you Daniel for your remark about the correct scientific way of writing.
What surprises me most is that they call this magnificent insect the
COMMON Milkweed Locust, there is nothing ‘common’ about it.
Thanks again for all your information. The strange thing was that I bought a book
in South Africa about all the animal wildlife, but the locusts were not mentioned in it.
Regards, Hanny Keulers

Hanny,
In the interest of scientific correctness, the second name in the binomial, the species name, is not capitalized, hence
Phymateaus morbillosus.

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Subject: Beautiful Grasshopper in Kenya
Location: Kijabe, Kenya
May 6, 2014 5:36 am
Can you identify this grasshopper? It was found in May in the mountains of Kenya (7,000 feet).
Signature: Matt

Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper

Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper

Dear Matt,
This is a Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper in the family Pyrgomorphidae, but we are having difficulty finding a species identification.  We have located a matching image on FlickR that is called a Clown Grasshopper, but we don’t believe that name has any importance.  That individual was found on Mount Kenya, so we suspect this might be a high altitude species.
Perhaps one of our readers will have better luck today with a species identification.

Could it be the nymph of the phymateus viripedes as seen at
http://thesmallermajority.com/2012/09/18/dangerous-candy/
It looks very similar.
Thanks for what you’re doing. It makes this fun!
Matt

Hi Matt,
While we would not entirely rule out that possibility, we believe the markings on the abdomen of the individuals in the two images are quite different.  Your Grasshopper has a dusting of small yellow spots over the entire body, while the example on The Smaller Majority has very different markings.

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Subject: Stunning and Curious Grasshopper
Location: Marloth Park, South Africa
April 18, 2014 3:49 am
Hello bugpeople!
I’m a travel blogger (at www.travelsandtripulations.com) currently in South Africa. I’ve given a shout-out to my readers about your site, because it’s so fabulous. And now I need your help. What in the world kind of grasshopper is this? He is gorgeous. He was studying me as intently as I was studying him.
And would it, by any chance, leave a hard yellow, white and black striped “shell” when it dies? I recently found one on the ground that looks similar to his body. But we’ve also seen a lot of furry yellow black and white striped caterpillars that I’ve been unable to identify (last pic)
I appreciate your help! Thank you!
Cheers,
Signature: Kenda

Elegant Grasshopper

Elegant Grasshopper

Hi Kenda,
Your beautiful grasshopper is appropriately named an Elegant Grasshopper or Rainbow Locust,
Zonocerus elegans , and it is one of the Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers in the family Pyrgomorphidae.  We do not believe that the exuvia or shed skin of a Grasshopper would be very hard or durable.  Providing a photo would make it easier for us to respond to that question.

Elegant Grasshopper

Elegant Grasshopper

Wow. I’m so pleasantly surprised about how quickly you responded!  Thank you, kindly. My next blog post (going out on or about Monday) will include a nice big shout-out for your work. Thank you!  Tomorrow I’ll go outside and see if I can find that “skin” and take a photo. It looks like it has little feet attached to it.Almost like what a millipede would have but it’s striped – yellow, black, white. It’s quite beautiful and fascinating. There’s a lot of awesome bug activity here. I’ve been having a blast seeing all these critters – even the Orb Spiders that kind of creep me out and fascinate me all at the same time.
Anyway, thank you, Mr. Marlos!
Cheers,
Kenda

Hello Mr. Bugman!
I just published a blog post touting your site and applauding your fabulous bug skills. Here ya go:  http://www.travelsandtripulations.com/2014/04/21/the-wildlife-of-marloth-park-south-africa/
Cheers,
Kenda

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Subject: Dictyophorus spumans
Location: Krugersdorp, South Africa
March 20, 2014 1:59 am
The Locust I found Yesterday.
On research I discovered it may be the above.
Is the foam toxic to humans?
Signature: Sharon Parkinson

Koppie Foam Grasshopper

Koppie Foam Grasshopper

Hi Sharon,
Your identification is correct and the common name for your individual is the Koppie Foam Grasshopper, one of the Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers.  According to NeatNature:  “The Koppie Foam Grasshopper is indeed toxic, consuming poisonous plants and storing the toxins inside their bodies.  The are also known for bathing themselves in a noxious foam when threatened. Through glands along their thorax, it is able to squeeze out a putrid foam which then covers them. The smell and the taste is enough to ward off any predator curious enough to get too close.”  According to Project Noah:  “Many members of this family (Pyrogomorphidae) can produce a defensive foamy secretion from there thoracic region which contain strong and poisonous chemicals, nasty deterrent and hence the vivid warning coloration.  The Pyrgomorphs are also referred to as ‘Gaudy Grasshoppers’. The warning coloration reflects their poisonous nature. The nymphs consume poisonous plants such as Milkweeds and retain the chemicals which include cardiac glycosids (heart poisons). There are records of dogs dying after eating these grasshoppers. One would have imagined that such a distinctive looking locust/grasshopper would be easily identified but unfortunately this has not proved to be the case. I initially located 2 other photos of this species on the web but neither author had committed to a species ID beyond genus. Progress: we (the PN community) now believe that this is a subadult of the species Dictyophorus spumans, with adult coloration and that the earlier nymph stages are much more black with red trimmings.”  It is our understanding that the toxins will also affect humans.

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Subject: Australian Cricket
Location: australia
February 1, 2014 5:30 pm
Hello,
I came across this cricket in WA, Australia in the bush a few years back.
Would like to know what is its name?
Signature: damien

Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper

Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper

Hi Damien,
This is a Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper in the family Pyrgomorphidae, but we are uncertain of the species.  At first we thought it might be a Blistered Grasshopper,
Monistria pustulifera, which we have identified before, but the markings are different, especially the yellow band through the face on the Blistered Grasshopper.  We speculated it was a different species in the same genus, which led us to a photo of a Mountain Spotted Grasshopper, Monistria concinna, on FlickR, and it looked very close, but when we checked the range on Csiro, it was wrong.  We also found photos on Dave’s Garden, and they look different than your individual.  So, we believe your Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper is in the genus Monistria, but we are not certain of the species.  Csiro indicates several species found in Western Australia, but alas Csiro does not have photos of them.  You might try writing to Csiro to see if they can identify the species, and if they do, please get back to us so that we can name this beautiful Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper more specifically.

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Subject: Grasshopper
Location: North West [South Africa]
February 1, 2014 12:45 am
Hi there,
This bug was photographed at Dube Private Game Farm in the North West, if you can tell us what this species is called it would settle a nice little argument.
Signature: Johan

Immature Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper

Immature Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper

Dear Johan,
This is a Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper or Bush Locust in the family Pyrgomorphidae.  It is an immature specimen, so it might be difficult to identify to the species level.  It greatly resembles the immature Green Milkweed Locust,
Phymateus viridipes, image on the Field Guide to Insects of South Africa.  The nymphs are described as being “spotted black and yellow.”  It also resembles an immature Phymateus saxosus from Madagascar that is in our archive.  We believe the genus Phymateus is most likely correct, but the species is not something about which we are certain.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination