Grasshoppers are fascinating insects, known for their ability to both jump and move through the air by flying. Fly they do, with agility and purpose, covering long distances to reach their habitats and food sources.
These insects are capable of swift flights that can reach heights of 2 to 3 feet and distances beyond 100 feet, often in swarms during migratory movements, covering up to 15 miles a day. Phytophilous grasshoppers, found in habitats of tall grass, demonstrate a unique feeding behavior where they prefer to rest on their host plant, and may not jump or fly to escape intruding scouts or insect collectors.
Their flying ability has implications for crop damage and pest control, making it necessary for farmers to monitor their presence and search for effective insecticide solutions. Adult grasshoppers can find greener fields for feeding and have a larger appetite, increasing the risk to field crops.
The Basics of Grasshopper Flight
Different Types of Wings
Grasshoppers possess two pairs of wings, comprising of the forewings and hind wings. The forewings, also known as tegmina, are typically narrow and leathery. On the other hand, hind wings are broader and membranous. For example, Eastern Lubbers have short wings that render them incapable of flying.
Grasshoppers can cover short distances by flying. They use their powerful hind legs to jump into the air and create an updraft. Once they’re airborne, their wings help them sustain flight by flapping rapidly. The exoskeleton provides the structure necessary for wing movement, as well as antenna and leg movement during flight.
Comparison Table: Jumping vs. Flying
|Uses hind legs||Uses wings|
|Shorter distances||Longer distances|
|No updraft needed||Requires updraft|
The Science of Jumping and Flying
The combination of jumping and flying enables grasshoppers to move efficiently and evade predators. Their hind legs are adapted for powerful jumps, which contribute to quick takeoff and upward movement. Flight speeds can vary depending on factors like wingspan, age, and species.
To summarize, grasshoppers use a combination of their legs and wings for varying modes of locomotion. While their forewings and hind wings serve different purposes, both are critical for flight. Their jumping and flying abilities rely largely on aerodynamics, providing them with efficient movement.
Key Characteristics of Grasshopper Flight:
- Two pairs of wings: forewings and hind wings
- Hind legs for powerful jumps
- Updraft needed for sustained flight
- Exoskeleton provides structure for movement
Grasshopper Anatomy and Adaptations
Locomotion and Motion
Grasshoppers are known for their ability to hop and jump great distances using their long, powerful hind legs. In addition, they can also fly short distances, particularly for escaping predators or searching for food and mates.
- Hop and jump: Grasshoppers use their hind legs to propel themselves forward.
- Flight: Adult grasshoppers have developed wings that enable them to fly.
Anatomy of Grasshopper Wings
The grasshopper has two pairs of wings for flying. The front wings, called tegmina, are usually more rigid and narrow, while the hind wings are larger, membranous, and used for actual flight.
- Tegmina: Front wings providing protection and aiding in steering during flight.
- Hind wings: Main flight wings, which are broader and more flexible.
The Role of the Thorax and Abdomen
The grasshopper’s thorax houses the essential muscles for both jumping and flying, as it contains the powerful muscle attachments for the hind legs and wings. The abdomen plays a vital role in respiration and contains the insect’s reproductive system.
- Thorax: Contains muscles for jumping and flying.
- Abdomen: Responsible for respiration and reproduction.
Protection and Defense Mechanisms
Grasshoppers employ several strategies for avoiding predators, including camouflage, speed, and warning colorations.
- Camouflage: Grasshoppers use color patterns and markings to blend into their environment.
- Speed: They can jump or fly away swiftly when threatened.
- Warning colorations: Some grasshoppers display bright colors that signal danger or unpalatability to predators.
|Hopping and Jumping||Quick escape from predators||Can be energy-intensive|
|Flight||Faster movement; enables migration and mate searching||Only possible with fully developed wings|
|Camouflage||Conceals grasshoppers from predators||Less effective if environment changes|
|Warning colorations||Deters predators by signaling danger or unpalatability||May attract attention if predator ignores warning|
The Life Cycle of a Grasshopper
The grasshopper life cycle starts with eggs, typically laid in spring. Nymphs, the immature stage of the grasshopper, resemble smaller versions of adults, but lack fully developed wings. They shed their cuticles as they grow through several stages, eventually becoming adults.
- Egg: Laid in spring, it’s the beginning of grasshopper’s life cycle
- Nymph: Immature stage, resembling smaller versions of adults
Nymphs undergo gradual metamorphosis during development, with several stages that scientists call “instars” [source].
Adult Grasshoppers and Mating
Once fully developed, adult grasshoppers possess wings and are capable of flight. They mate in the adult stage to produce offspring. Different species exhibit varying traits during mating, such as distinct songs, dances, or displays of bright colors.
Adults are good fliers over short distances, making use of their hind legs for jumping as well [source]. For instance, Schistocerca gregaria, or the desert locust, belongs to the same Orthoptera family as grasshoppers.
Migration and Swarming Behavior
Grasshoppers can migrate short distances in search of food. Some species, such as locusts, are particularly well-known for their swarming migrations, which can devastate vast fields of crops. A swarm of locusts covering a football field can travel at altitudes of up to 1000 meters.
Comparison between grasshoppers and locusts:
|Migration||Short distances, in search of food||Longer distances, forming huge swarms over vast areas|
|Swarming behavior||Less likely to swarm||Devastating swarms, causing significant damage to crops|
|Flight capabilities||Good fliers over short distances, jumping ability||Can travel at high altitudes, forming dense swarms|
However, many grasshopper species do not exhibit such extreme swarming behavior, but they can still migrate together in smaller numbers [source].
Notable Grasshopper Species
Common Field Grasshopper
The Common Field Grasshopper (Chorthippus brunneus) is a widely distributed species in North America. The key features of this grasshopper include:
- Brownish or greenish body color
- Short wings and powerful jumping legs
- Adults growing up to 20mm long
They primarily feed on grasses and have a high protein content, making them a popular food source for birds.
Common Green Grasshopper
The Common Green Grasshopper (Omocestus viridulus) is a slightly larger species found in North America. Its characteristics are:
- Bright green color, providing efficient camouflage
- Direct flight muscles, contributing to their strong flying ability
- Four shedding (molting) stages before becoming an adult
This species also feeds mainly on grasses and is an important part of the ecosystem.
Eastern Lubber Grasshopper
The Eastern Lubber Grasshopper (Romalea microptera) is a distinct, large species predominantly found in the southeastern United States. Notable features include:
- Impressive size, with adults reaching up to 3 inches in length
- Vivid color patterns, including black, orange, or yellow hues
- Notable tarsus, or foot, structure for efficient jumping
Despite their large size, Eastern Lubbers have underdeveloped wings, relying more on their jumping ability for movement.
|Feature||Common Field Grasshopper||Common Green Grasshopper||Eastern Lubber Grasshopper|
|Size||Up to 20mm||Slightly larger||Up to 3 inches|
|Color||Brownish or greenish||Bright green||Vivid colors|
|Primary Food Source||Grasses||Grasses||Various plants|
By understanding these notable species of grasshoppers, we can appreciate their diversity and unique characteristics and how they fit into their ecosystems.
Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.
Letter 1 – Namibian Stone Grasshopper
Big namibian grashopper
Fri, Jan 9, 2009 at 2:01 PM
Big namibian grashopper
Hi, we stumbled across this large and very well camouflaged grasshopper in august in a mountain range in Namibia. When we were getting very close, it started to rub its hind legs against its abdomen – making quite a loud noise (obviously to scare us away). Very fascinating bug this one. What species can it be?
Wow, that is some impressive looking grasshopper. It is toadlike. We need to do some research to try to identify its family, genus and species, but perhaps by posting your magnificent images, one of our readers will be able to assist with the answers.
Update: Sat, Jan 10, 2009 at 4:08 PM
Wow indeed! This looks like a Stone Grasshopper (sounds appropriate), in the genus Trachypetrella . There are apparently 3 species reported, although a recent paper suggests they are likely conspecific ( Irish and Roberts 2006 ) under T. anderssonii . Interestingly, they are referred to as raniform (i.e. froglike) grasshoppers and one of the species synonyms is T. rana , although I would agree with you that they look more ‘toadlike’ than ‘froglike’. Regards.
Letter 2 – Northern Green Striped Grasshopper: Pink/Purple form
Purple grasshopper, Chortophaga viridifasciata nymph maybe?
Wed, Mar 25, 2009 at 3:00 PM
This has got to be one of the cutest little critters I’ve ever seen! It’s purple! I have never seen one like it before. A friend of mine caught it in her yard, and saved it for me. I’ve had so much fun trying to ID it. I found one photo on bugguide ( http://bugguide.net/node/view/176424) that might be this hopper, but would like to have a positive ID.
Most of this little hopper’s body is a pinkish purple, save some green on the wings? Its eyes are yellow-green, and it has short, stubby antennae.
My friend said it was playing in the clover when she spotted it, and by the time she managed to catch it out in the field, both she and the hopper were worn out 🙂
Roe, Monroe County, Arkansas
We believe you have correctly identified this purple Northern Green Striped Grasshopper, Chortophaga viridifasciata. BugGuide lists green and brown forms, and has several images of brighter pink and purple forms.
Letter 3 – Mystery Insect from the Philippines is a Grasshopper
May 27, 2013 1:59 am
Hi Bugman. I remember sending tons of bugs for identification. I just wonder if it came through, my email’s [edited for content], from the Philippines. Thanks!
While we commend your enthusiasm to have your insects identified, we are unable to respond to the “tons of bugs for identification” we receive on a daily basis. This particular submission contains three different photos with no attached information. We carefully choose which letters to post based on what we believe our readership will find interesting or helpful. Since we are a free service, we feel no obligation to answer all the mail we receive, though we make an attempt to respond to as many requests as our limited time permits. We prefer letters with helpful information and you have provided us with nothing but a request and a notice that you have submitted “tons of bugs for identification”. Please confine your future submissions to a single species per request and please provide some information for our staff. With that said, one of your photos has us especially intrigued. We have no idea how to classify it and we are not even 100% certain we have correctly identified the head end. We believe the head is on the left, as it appears there are eyes and antennae under a overhang of some sort. There also appear to be appendages at the right end of the body. Only four legs are visible. We are requesting assistance from our readership on this identification.
Eric Eaton Responds:
I’d say this is a tetrigid: Pygmy grasshopper, family Tetrigidae, but it might be some other family that does not occur in North America.
Karl Provides an Identification: Misythus species
Hi Daniel and Oman:
It’s definitely an Orthopteran and it appears to be a Grouse Locust or Pygmy Grasshopper in the genus Misythus (family Tetrigidae; subfamily Cladonotinae; tribe Echinatini). I can’t categorically exclude all other genera within the Cladonotinae subfamily without doing a lot more research, but I am fairly comfortable with the genus Misythus. There are 27 recognized species, all of them equally bazaar and all endemic to the Philippines. The Orthoptera Species File Online site has some photos and limited information for most of the species, but I couldn’t find enough information to provide a definitive identification. From what is provided, the best match appears to be M. securifer or perhaps M. banahao, but it could easily be another species as well. It’s a really cool bug; I like it! Regards. Karl
Wow, thanks so much both Karl and Eric.
Thank you very much.
I saw this insect in Pangil, Laguna, Philippines on the way to the waterfalls.It was situated on a branch near our trail. A really interesting find. This was during January 2013.
I actually sent tons of inquiries before but I wasn’t answered. I am just not sure if it came through so I sent some of them again just now in a bundle. I did what you asked before by placing details on where they were seen etc. So I asked if you were able to find some of my queries …
Well if I spot new insects again that would be of interest will surely send them to you. Thanks for the help. I really though the head was on the right. Never occurred to me it was on the other end.
Hi Again OMAN,
Thanks for the additional information on this fascinating Grasshopper. Please feel free to resend any submissions that still have you curious. We do tend to get very busy at times and we cannot respond to all of our mail and older submissions tend to get buried. We will be away from the office for a spell in early June, so any mail that arrives at that time will not be read in a timely manner.
Letter 4 – Newly Hatched Grasshoppers
Location: North Augusta, SC
May 15, 2011 3:50 pm
These bugs were found clustered on a burgundy oxalis. Are they harmful to plants?
They dispersed quickly when I brushed them off.
These look like newly hatched Grasshoppers. We cannot be certain of the species. Grasshoppers feed on plants, and their presence in such numbers on your purple shamrocks indicates that the eggs may have been laid in the flower pot, however, it does not appear that they are feeding on the shamrock. The plant is in the genus Oxalis and the plant contains oxalic acid, which may deter insects from feeding upon it.
Letter 5 – Obscure Bird Grasshopper with Eggs
Subject: Is it a parasite or its own eggs for reproduction
Location: Wesley Chapel, Fl
November 24, 2012 3:53 am
I found this today in Wesley Chapel, Fl Nov 2012.
The locus or grass hopper did not move quickly at all like other grass hoppers. He seemed very lethargic.
Signature: Andrea Puida
We believe we have correctly identified your Grasshopper as the Obscure Bird Grasshopper, Schistocerca obscura, thanks to the excellent database on BugGuide. We don’t believe these are the eggs of the Grasshopper. We believe they are the pupae of some internal parasite, perhaps some species of fly or wasp. We will do some additional research and seek some outside assistance for this identification as well.
Thank you Daniel!
I couldn’t believe what I saw and knew it was a parasite.. I am excited to hear back from you as to what this parasite it is.
Thank you again,
Eric Eaton provides some insight
Wow, that is really strange. I would bet, however, that those are actually grasshopper eggs, either from another female, or that somehow got oozed out of this very specimen. She (I’m assuming this is a female), looks pretty damaged anyway, what with missing both hind legs. Grasshoppers lay eggs in “pods,” whereby the eggs adhere to each other, and that is exactly the case here. Normally the female lays her eggs under the soil, though.
The grasshopper was just sitting in my friends driveway. It just didn’t appear alert in any way, which is why I thought it was infested with a parasite because it inhibits its neurological way of living /behaviors. This creature was in no way afraid of me and I was very close to it. I took nearly 20 photos of it from every angle. Yes, I’m a medical student and was very intrigued ..
Please tell all involved thank you and I look forward to finding my next mysterious insect for you guys!!!
Hi again Andrea,
Eric’s observations that the Grasshopper looks damaged and your observations that she was not alert point to the possibility that she was somehow severely traumatized which might have caused her to expel her own eggs which then adhered to her body. This is still an interesting mystery.
Additional Comment: September 30, 2013
Subject: additional input on grasshopper eggs or parisite
September 30, 2013 1:46 pm
so I found the same thing when I was feeding my turtle. Pulled off the legs of a grasshopper to feed him and out came these yellow ovals. I believe them to be eggs too.
Letter 6 – Mediterranean Slantfaced Grasshopper from Italy
Subject: Jumping bug
Location: Italy (Perugia)
October 21, 2012 3:53 am
This bug jumped in front of me on a golf course. At first I thought it was a grasshopper, but then I looked closely and it looks like nothing I have seen before.
Can you help me identify it?
We do not get many identification requests from Italy. Your initial impulse was correct. This is either a Mediterranean Slantfaced Grasshopper, Acrida ungarica, or a related species in the same genus. They may be either green or brown in color. You might be able to get some information from the Italian Linnea.It website.
Letter 7 – Monkey Grasshopper
Subject: Never Before Seen Bug
Geographic location of the bug: Sylmar, Ca
Time: 02:44 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: After coming home from work around 6:30 p.m. I saw this interesting specimen. I thought it was a young grasshopper but it doesn’t quite match the photos I have seen online. From my perspective it looked like a cross between a walking stick and a grasshopper. I would greatly appreciate an identification.
How you want your letter signed: Most curious
Dear Most Curious,
This is definitely a Grasshopper, and we believe, based on its silhouette, that it is a Chaparral Monkey Grasshopper, Morsea californica, which is pictured on BugGuide. According to BugGuide, the range is “mountains of southern California (south of Mojave Desert and Central Valley).”
Letter 8 – Monkey Grasshopper from Malaysia
Subject: Skull butt Grasshopper?
December 28, 2012 8:57 am
I’ve only seen one reference to a grasshopper with this Skull butt name and with similar markings from someone else online but I’ve not been able to see a second ref to confirm what I photographed. I’m curious if this is the correct name and if there is a scientific name for this guy. He was photographed in the Malaysian highlands meaning cool temps and drizzly weather. He was alone and completely still.
We did a bit of research and found a matching photo on FlickR that was identified as a Monkey Grasshopper in the family Eumastacidae. There was a link included another FlickR posting identified as being in the genus Erianthus. Since we do not like taking for fact any information we find on FlickR, we then researched that genus name and found another photo on Wild Borneo.
Thank you so much for the ID and for sharing your search method.
Letter 9 – Monkey Grasshopper from Peru
Peruvian Grasshopper Photos
January 19, 2012 10:12:38 AM PST
Okay, here are pics of a couple of grasshoppers that caught my attention in Peru last November.
1. White-winged Grasshopper. We were birding at km 409.3 on the superb trans-Andean highway Carretera Fernando Belaunde Terry, Dept. Amazonas, northern Peru, east of Abra Patricia Pass in montane evergreen forest, November 7, 2011. Flashes of white in the roadside vegetation caught my attention and, being a lepidopterist, I at first assumed that a moth or white skipper was on the wing. On closer inspection, however, I discovered that it was this grasshopper; while at rest, the grasshopper would quickly flick out its snow white hindwings–too quick for me to photograph–in a presumed territorial or courtship display. When it flew the white wings would again flash, but again too quickly for me to photograph.
You’re welcome to publish these if you see fit.
Thanks so much for sending your photos. Interestingly, while trying to identify a Swordtail Butterfly, we found a photo that matched your Grasshopper, and even more interesting, it was in the WTB? archives. It was identified by Karl as a Monkey Grasshopper or Airplane Grasshopper, and possibly the species Paramastax nigra.
Letter 10 – Monkey Grasshopper from the Amazon
Grasshopper from the Amazon
May 26, 2010
This was commonly seen in our hikes in the Manu Jungle, upper Amazon Basin, Peru.
Manu National Park, Amazon Basin, Peru
We don’t recognize your Grasshopper, but perhaps one of our readers can assist.
Karl Supplies an identification
Hi Daniel and Don:
The small size, short antennae and particularly the splayed out hind legs are all characteristic of the family Eumastacidae. The common name for the family is Monkey Grasshoppesr or Monkey Hoppers; sometimes Airplane Grasshoppesr. This is a fairly large family of hoppers with many species throughout the Americas, particularly in the tropics. This one looks very much like Paramastax nigra. If that’s not the exact species, it is most likely the correct genus. It’s a very nice photo. Regards.
Letter 11 – New Delhi Grasshopper: Painted Grasshopper
I found this large grasshopper clinging to a plant in my driveway (in New Delhi, India). Your grasshopper page says you aren’t familiar with Asian insects, but I thought you might like the photograph nevertheless. I keep misremembering the name of your site as "whatthebug.com" 🙂
Thanks for the photo. We will post it on our Grasshopper page without an identification.
Ed. Note: (11/16/2005)
This just in from Eric Eaton: “New Delhi grasshopper, 8/05/2005 is another bush locust in the Pyrgomorphidae family.”
I think I’ve got an answer to “New Delhi Grasshopper (08/05/2005)”: Poekilocerus pictus AKA Painted Grasshopper. This was just checking the Internet; found only one picture from a reliable source, but other good info as well: feeds on milkweed, making it poisonous. I’ve got it on photo too, from North India, will be online in a couple of weeks. Cheers, marco
Marco Bleeker, Amsterdam, NL.
Confirmation: (08/10/2007) grasshopper id
Hi I was going through your site on grasshoppers and i saw this photo of grasshopper posted by Abhijit from New Delhi. I know the species. Its called painted grasshopper – Poecilocera pictus .We get quite some colourful ones like that and can be seen most frequently on Calotropis plants as also on other selected Asclepedaceae plant species. Hope its of some help. cheers
Dr.Geetha Iyer. Ph.D
Kanyakumari dist., Tamil Nadu.
Letter 12 – Northern Green-Striped Grasshopper
Subject: Northern Green-Striped Grasshopper
Location: Occoquan, NWR, Occoquan, Virginia
April 13, 2017 4:18 PM
I figured out that this is a Northern Green-striped Grasshopper, but since you don’t seem to have any photo in your database, I thought I’d send these photos on to you. Thanks for your wonderful site. I photographed this today at Occoquan NWR, in Occoquan, Virginia.
P.S. I’d like to contribute, but am not a fan of entering personal data onto my computer. Just let me know how to make the check out to and where to send it.
Best regards, Seth
Thanks so much for sending in your beautiful, high resolution images of the subspecies Chortophaga viridifasciata viridifasciata, the Northern Green-Striped Grasshopper, which is also pictured on BugGuide where the range is listed as “from northern portions of southeastern states northward across most of United States and southern Canada. Rare west of the Great Plains, but occurs in pockets with favorable habitat, and may be introduced in some areas.” According to BugGuide, the Southern Green-Striped Grasshopper has the more limited range. Of the species, BugGuide notes: “Adults in spring and early summer in North. Southward multiple-brooded with adults from end of winter to begining of winter, and in far south may be found year-round.” We were quite curious about the spring appearance of an adult, but BugGuide clarifies with this information: “Nymphs overwinter, producing adults in early spring; often the first grasshopper seen in spring. Two or more generations occur south from about Virginia, the Ohio Valley, and Nebraska. In the low Southeast, multiple overlapping generations occur, and adults and nymphs may be found together through much of the year. Overwintering nymphs — Thought it worth a comment here to point out that in this species, and a few others, the nymph is the overwintering stage. The eggs hatch in late summer or autumn, and half grown to nearly mature nymphs overwinter through the winter. That is why the adults appear early in the spring; the nymphs are already well along when spring comes, and only have a little growing left to do. Most grasshopper eggs hatch later in the spring or early summer when it heats up, but by then the adults of many of these early (or is it late) species are long gone already (or old anyway).… David J. Ferguson, 16 October, 2007.” Thanks for your generous offer. We fully understand your reluctance with sharing personal data. We really do have a love/hate relationship with computers in the 21st Century.
Letter 13 – Orthopteran from Borneo
Subject: tiny grasshopper – with enormously long antennae
Geographic location of the bug: Sabah, Borneo
Time: 10:08 PM EDT
Flush with the near success of the recent giant cricket photos, I thought I’d try the other extreme. This tiny guy joined me for tea one afternoon on the Kinabatangan River. I thought at first it must be an early instar (?) but the length of the antennae make me think otherwise. Cool little critter whatever.
How you want your letter signed: Paul Prior
This really does look like a Grasshopper, a member of the Orthopteran suborder Caleifera, a group sometimes called the Short-Horned Orthoptera according to BugGuide, because they have short antennae, however, there is at least one family in the suborder, Tanaoceridae, the Desert Long-Horned Grasshoppers, that is pictured on BugGuide that does have long antennae. Though BugGuide is a site devoted to North American species, there might be Long-Horned Grasshoppers in Borneo as well. Most Orthopterans with long antennae, including Katydids and Crickets, belong to the suborder Ensifera, the Long-Horned Orthopterans. Based on this FlickR image, Borneo does have some Grasshoppers with long antennae. This is a young nymph, and it might be difficult to identify properly, but we will check with Katydid expert Piotr Naskrecki to see if he can provide any information.
Much appreciated, Daniel.
I’ll follow up on the leads you’ve provided. I’m not an entomologist at all so my belief that no youngster could possess such ridiculously long antennae was based simply on layman’s expectations. I fear that since it’s therefore an early instar it may be unidentifiable!
Letter 14 – Pair of Rare Peruvian Grasshoppers: Hippacris diversa
Subject: PICTURES Of a Very Rare Orthoptera……..
October 16, 2013 9:54 am
I am not a biologist, I just discovered the amazing world of insects lately and found an interest to take pictures of them.
So in my last trip in Amazonia I took a picture of a very rare Grasshopper, NO PICTURES OF THIS GRASSHOPPER IN INTERNET, only a picture in Black and white taken in 1944 (dead Grasshopper).
The name is :Grasshopper Hippacris diversa Rehn and Rehn, 1944 (Male (small one) and Female (Big one))
You can find this very rare Grasshopper in my Website, in the link above:
I am a french woman Wildlife Photographer (rank 3 by Google / 3000 people by month on 120 countries).
MY INSECTS GALLERIES:
It’s a non lucrative website, just pictures to make people dream and then help to protect the wonderful wildlife in the world…
To progress, I try to have some ”good backlinks”, some publications in Wildlife magazines and also some ”photo credit” in Website.
Thanking you in advance.
We are honored that you are allowing us to post your beautiful photo of a pair of rare and seldom photographed Grasshoppers. The photos on your website are stunning.
I am really happy to share my images with you.
I hope they will help people to respect nature and wildlife.
All the best,
Letter 15 – Pink Grasshopper Nymph from Japan may be Rice Grasshopper
Subject: Pink Grasshopper
Geographic location of the bug: Osaka Japan
Time: 09:45 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Hi, I found this beautiful little (1.5 cm) guy trying to hide in some tall grass & wondered if it was one of the rare pink grasshoppers I’ve been reading about, or a normal nymph coloration. Can you help me identify it? Thank you very much for your time!
How you want your letter signed: Karen
This really is a pretty little Grasshopper. All we can state for certain at this time is that it is an immature Grasshopper. The pink coloration might be normal, it might be a variation (many Orthopterans exhibit unusual pink coloration, especially Katydids), or it might be due to recent molting as the insect’s exoskeleton darkens as it hardens after molting as this unrelated Wheel Bug illustrates. Kotaku has an image of a different looking pink Grasshopper and provides this information: “A sixth grader in Gunma Prefecture, Japan recently discovered a pink grasshopper—which is “extremely rare.” It and the boy ended up on NHK, the country’s equivalent of the BBC. As The Huffington Post points out, not much is known about pink grasshoppers other than it’s thought the mutation is caused due to the grasshopper having too much red pigment and not enough black pigment.” Though it is not from Japan, Daily Mail has a nice image of an immature pink Grasshopper. In our opinion, that bold white stripe might be a better identification feature, but we were unable to locate any similar images based on that feature. Perhaps one of our readers will have better luck than we have had.
Thank you so much for the quick response. I have also not been able to identify it based on the white stripe, but will continue my research. Thanks again, I really appreciate the time & effort you put into this site!
Possible ID for “Pink grasshopper nymph from Japan” (June 23)
— Your letter to the bugman —
I believe this is a nymph of the Rice Grasshopper, Oxya japonica, or a closely related species. See the probable nymph at Nature Love You, the mating pairs at https://commons.wikimedia.org/
Letter 16 – Plains Lubber
Subject: screaming lubbers!
Location: Edgewood, NM at 6800’; pinion and juniper forest
September 22, 2012 10:37 am
Hello again! I noticed no-one has submitted a plains lubber pic so far this year, and I thought you would enjoy this portrait. I do have a question, though– have you ever heard of a lubber making a squeaking noise? When I was handling this girl, she make a noise that sounded a lot like a baby mouse. Enjoy!
This is a beautiful portrait of a Plains Lubber, Brachystola magna. BugGuide does not make any mention of stridulation, the squeaking sound that many insects make when disturbed, but the sound you describe sounds very similar to the stridulation produced by many beetles in the family Cerambycidae when they are handled. Insects stridulate by rubbing parts of their bodies together. About Insects remarks on the stridulation of Orthopterans as a means of attracting mates rather than as a defense mechanism: “Insects in the order Orthoptera are known for more than their jumping skills, however. Many are accomplished singers as well. Males of some species attract mates by producing sounds with their legs or wings. This form of sound production is called stridulation, and involves rubbing the upper and lower wings or the hind leg and wing together to create a vibration.”
No kidding about the jumping skills! When fully warmed up in the sun, this 3″ insect can jump several feet in almost any direction! I’ve never heard one sing, though; ours are quite quiet. The alarm sound (the “squeaking” I described) is the only sound I’ve heard them make. We have an excellent crop of them this year, as well as numerous other smaller species.
Letter 17 – Plains Lubber
Subject: Crickets or Grasshoppers
Geographic location of the bug: Southern Arizona
Time: 10:04 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: We were in southern AZ in October birding, and there were a lot of bugs about. Birding is my thing and those I can ID, but not so much bugs! These guys were all intriguing for their color, their armor, or behavior (some were eating each other). Thanks for taking a look!
How you want your letter signed: Tina
Hi Again Tina,
Your second submitted image is a Plains Lubber grasshopper, Brachystola magna, another flightless species that is pictured on BugGuide. According to BugGuide: “Large, colorful grasshopper. Flightless. On the central and southern Great Plains, individuals reach their largest size, and are more often (especially females) predominantly green. In the Southwest they tend to be smaller, more varied in coloration, but most often predominantly brown.”
Letter 18 – Plains Lubber Grasshopper
locust or grasshopper?
Can you help us identify these? There were thousands of them at the City of Rocks in New Mexico this weekend. they averaged about 3 inches in length and were brightly colored a sharp contrast to the light brown grasshoppers we typically see here in the area. thanks
We believe this is a Plains Lubber Grasshopper in the genus Brachystola. This genus has not been represented on our site until your submission. Though BugGuide doesn’t have many specifics on the genus, the Family Romaleidae is characterized as having: “Most species are large with shortened wings, often brightly marked “
Letter 19 – Plains Lubber Grasshopper
NM AZ Road Trip Photos: Swarms, Bug Lust &
On our way to visit friends in AZ crossing far western New
Mexico we encountered a "swarm" of what I presume
had to be some sort of locust? These large (up to 3"
long) "grasshoppers" covered the roads and wild
fields next to the roads. It was sad because the insects were
being smashed in massive numbers as they crossed the road.
When we arrived at our friend’s home in Portal, Arizona (located
in the foothills of the Chiricahua Mountains (Apache Country),
we were able to take photos of the grasshopper / locust. They
were very pretty and have rather whimsical faces. Can you
tell us what they are? … Thanks for any info. you can provide.
Feel free to post the photos.
Lori L. Paul
Though we applaud your enthusiasm, you have submitted far
too many photos of different species for one letter, so we
have taken the liberty of editing your letter and dealing
with the first species. This is a Plains Lubber Grasshopper, Brachystola magna.
We are getting reports of numerous sightings in the Southwest
right now and your excellent photos should help our readership
identify them. If time permits, we will try to answer your
other questions. If we do not respond in a few days, please
resend info on just one species and reattach the image.
Update: (09/07/2008) SW Grasshopper Swarm
Sorry about the bug barrage. I had no intention of blasting you out of the bug photo water, just wanted to share our interesting trip images of insects (& one big *ss spider). No need to send any answers back to me, if you don’t have time… just enjoy the pictures with apologies for my inability to identify the subjects. I didn’t think you’d want to post the entire expose!
That said, thanks for identifying the Plains Lubber Grasshopper. The “swarm” we experienced was amazing. For several miles, the rural road became slick with the number of grasshoppers smashed and still trying to crawl across the pavement. It was rather sad and surreal at the same time. They landed on our windshield and were also in all the grass and shrubs by the roadside. We hit a few other, smaller “clouds” of grasshoppers, one on the freeway near Deming, NM. They were mostly swept off the road lanes by cars, but you could see many of their bodies, some moving, in the medians on both side. They did not seem to be going anywhere, just randomly crawling, unlike some “swarms” of insects that move in a general direction. It was wild.
Thanks for your info!
Edibility Update: (09/07/2008) Lubbers Are Edible!
Long time no write, hope that things are good with you both. Lubbers are a funny case: quite a few insectivorous animals will avoid them, having learned through experience that lubbers are, shall we say, problematic. David George Gordon, the best-known entomophagy guy on the West Coast, has served them for many years, despite the concerns of some. I’ve eaten them and served them — not the western species but in fact the one found in Florida, which is particularly known for its defensive display including noxious chemistry. It’s one of the numerous mysteries around entomophagy. Best,
We just received a letter from a woman in Florida complaining that nothing would eat the Lubbers in her yard. We would love to pass on your information, but sadly, we cannot locate the letter.
Letter 20 – Plains Lubber Grasshopper
What’s this huge colorful grasshopper?
August 24, 2009
We found these large colorful grasshoppers in the Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park, Texas. But identification stumped everyone we asked. We also saw a smaller, more tan/less colorful version that we did not get a picture of. Possibly the female?
Rebecca, Amelia and Sylvia
Big Bend National Park, Texas
Dear Rebecca, Amelia and Sylvia,
This beautiful grasshopper is a Plains Lubber Grasshopper, Brachystola magna. It is also called a Homesteader or Western Lubber Grasshopper according to BugGuide. BugGuide also indicates it has a : “Two-year life cycle, with eggs requiring two overwintering periods before hatching.” Actually, the female is the larger individual in most grasshoppers.
Letter 21 – Plains Lubber Grasshopper
Location: Northern Cochise County in southern AZ.
November 12, 2012 9:05 am
What is this handsome approximately two inch long grasshopper? Why doesn’t she/he have wings? Is she/he a juvenile? She/he was found in a dry wash eating some yummy green leaves on 11/9/12 and showed a surprising lack of shyness as I got close to take the photos.
We quickly identified this as a Plains Lubber Grasshopper, Brachystola magna, thanks to the excellent photos on BugGuide. This is a very large, flightless species, and we believe your individual is a female. According to BugGuide: “Large, colorful grasshopper. Flightless. On the central and southern Great Plains, individuals reach their largest size, and are more often (especially females) predominantly green. In the Southwest they tend to be smaller, more varied in coloration, but most often predominantly brown.” BugGuide also has this interesting historical note: “Important in the history of genetics, this species has large chromosomes, easily observed in the early days of cell biology.” The citation is linked to this Genetics Society of America online article.