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.  

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

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

Location: South Africa

4 Responses to Common Milkweed Locust from South Africa

  1. Mohammed s.boru says:

    Between a female phymateus morbillosus and a male which one is bigger?does the female carry the male on her during copulation

  2. KarenMeyerSA says:

    I found two in my garden this morning (I think they were mating) a beautiful red colour about as big as my clenched fist. Unfortunately I am unable to upload a photograph. Mikpunt, Klipheuwel, Durbanville, Cape Town, South Africa.

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