Subject: large neon orange and yellow locust from Ometepe
Location: Ometepe Island, Rivas, Nicaragua (near Playa Santo Domingo)
August 12, 2012 7:46 pm
Hello What’s That Bug Staff,
I was recently (August 2012) on Ometepe Island Biological Reserve in Rivas, Nicaragua where it is in the middle of the rainy season. While walking to Playa Santo Domingo through an area that looked like it had been cleared for agriculture, i stumbled across this absolutely beautiful gigantic neon orange and yellow locust that was sitting out in the open on a plastic bag. In retrospect, I should’ve taken more pictures of it, but I was afraid the bright colors and the fact that it was boldy sitting out in the open suggested that it was poisonous or toxic and I didn’t want to get too close. Would like it to be identified if possible. Your help is greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Signature: Sincerely, Jay from San Francisco.
Dear Jay from San Francisco,
This is really a beautifully colored Grasshopper and we are relatively certain it is a Lubber Grasshopper in the genus Taeniopoda, though we have not had any luck pinning down a species identification for you. We did find a matching image on the SkeieScapes Nicaragua Photo Gallery website, but alas, it is not identified. You need to scroll down the page to find the image. We continued to research and we found a similar looking but very drably colored photo on americaninsects.net and it is identified as Taeniopoda auricornis and this information is provided: “Taeniopoda species are found in Mexico and Central America, with one species only crossing into the far southwestern United States. Many of the species in this genus prefer arid habitats, but there are a number of exceptions, like the species shown here, photographed in and a damp habitat in Central America. Taeniopoda auricornis is one of the more robust members of the genus, and is paler than most of its congeners. ” The species found in the Southwest portion of the United States is the Horse Lubber Grasshopper, Taeniopoda eques, and you can read about it on BugGuide. Though it makes sense that the coloration of your species might be aposomatic or warning coloration, we could not find any reference to the members of the genus being either poisonous or foul tasting.
Update: April 21, 2015
We received a comment that this appears to be Taeniopoda gutturosa, but we are having trouble locating an online image. We did find a black and white image on Orthoptera Species File that looks very similar.