What’s this grasshopper from Thailand?
May 12, 2010
On a hike through one of the many national parks in Thailand, i came across this little fellow. I was captivated by his immaculate colours. I stayed and observed him for quite some time and it didn’t seem to bother him at all! I’d like to know what genus/species (if possible) this grasshopper is. I’m actually considering getting a tattoo of him too! So i’d like to do a bit of background info on him. Thanks!
Heather
Southern province, Thailand.

Ghost Grasshopper

Hi Heather,
We immediately recognized your grasshopper as a member of the family Pyrgomorphidae or Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers.  Most of the photos we have received come from South Africa and Madagascar, and we did locate a website called the Flying Kiwi that pictures a specimen from Cambodia that looks remarkably like your specimen.  You need to scroll down to the bottom of the page.  It is identified as a Ghost Grasshopper in Thailand or the Northern Spotted Grasshopper in Cambodia, but there is no scientific name.  Here is what the website states:  “This is a northern spotted grasshopper, which I photographed at night along the trail to Chambok waterfall.   In Thailand it’s called a ghost grasshopper.
The bright colors are a warning that the grasshopper is chemically protected, so I’m surprised that it wasn’t active during the daytime.   I saw a very similar grasshopper during the daytime in Indonesia, though it lacked the white and red coloration on the head, and its legs were blue rather than black.  The northern spotted grasshopper exudes a toxic foam when it’s attacked, which apparently is a good way of keeping tarantulas and other large spiders at bay.  It’s a type of locust, and at times it can occur in numbers large enough to cause a significant amount of destruction.   It’s also fairly indiscriminate in the crops it will chew through.   Unlike other locusts, they’re no good for people to eat, though their attractive appearance probably does give some consolation to the people who are starving to death.
”  There is also a link to another similar looking grasshopper from Bali on the Flying Kiwi website.  The Thai Bugs website identifies the Ghost Grasshopper as Aularches miliaris.  It is also pictured on the Siam Insect Zoo website.  This species appears to be highly variable.  We have read reports of severe toxic reactions occurring if Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers are ingested.

This is great! Thank you so much for this information. I wonder why the Thai call it the “ghost” grasshopper? I do know that the Thai are deathly afraid of ghosts, so perhaps its attributed to its poisonous characteristics? Maybe someone clever gave it the name to make sure people stayed clear of it (not me, obviously!). I figured it was poisonous due to the apparent warning colouration. Thanks again for this information, what a cool bug!
Heather

Ghost Grasshopper

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