Grasshopper Molting

What’s going on here?
July 18, 2009
I came across this poor black beetle dragging itself across the rocks on a river shore in north-central Alberta. It was not very energetic to say the least and appeared to be ‘carrying’ something quite dead. I poked gently for signs of life, but barely spurred the black fellow to move. There was no reaction from the other one.
I did let nature take its course after taking this photo, and must say that the picture seems to show that there was more than ‘carrying’ going on. Was the ‘eater’ killed by the ‘eaten’, but too late? I admit I am a little sickened, but so very curious as to the possible scenario here.
I thank you in advance for any information you might be able to give me.
Just learning.
Swan Hills, Alberta

Grasshopper Molting
Grasshopper Molting

Dear Just learning,
Though this may look like a macabre scene, the Short Horned Grasshopper in the family Acrididae is actually just molting.  It is still immature.  We cannot tell you the genus or species, but the action depicted is a common occurrence, happening five times in the life of every grasshopper that achieves maturity.

4 thoughts on “Grasshopper Molting”

  1. Thank you so much for your very speedy reply. I can now look at the photo with a much happier feeling! I don’t know why that didn’t occur to me as a possibility, I’m sure I’ve heard about bugs molting, but it really looked like one was stuck into the other! And it looked so…well…unhealthy. I will be watching for this phenomenon in the future.

    Again, many thanks.

  2. E.O. Wilson the great Harvard entomologist / myrmecologist / ant specialist , one of my heroes points out that insects / Anthropods comprise approximately 8000 times the (biomass) of all the land, and see mammals combined. My number memory may be skewed, but the point is that Anthropod biomass, and diversity vastly outnumbers mammals, humans, cows, whales, wildebeests, hyenas, bears, lions tigers, ant eaters, and all the rest of the terrestrial animals other than the bacteria etc. When one sees the world from that perspective it becomes a no brainer that $$$$ Billions of dollars should be invested on studying everything there is to know about these highly successful adaptive creatures. Their neural networks, chemotaxis, organizational strategies. Certainly much is being done, but it’s very clear we are way behind the curve, and had better start studying fast, before we manage to wipe out this gift of manna that contains solutions to a million human earthly problems.

  3. To those who put out this amazing website, for the rest of us comparative (layabouts) I express admiration, and gratitude for your discipline, and generosity. The benefits to you, and all mankind will outweigh any sacrifice in the long run without question. Insects, and creatures of the microscopic world contain many of the answers to life’s greatest questions on this planet. Because of this kind of information, and sharing, we have a “chance” just a “chance” to save ourselves from self destruction. It all starts with knowledge. Let us light a billion fuses under the hides of kids everywhere. In their future educated minds is the next step in preservation, and solutions to problems in every discipline, from chemistry and physics, to algorithms, engineering, and psychology. The possibilities, and opportunities are endless . Thanks.


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