Green Milkweed Grasshoppers are fascinating insects that are often found in habitats where milkweed plants thrive. These grasshoppers have a unique relationship with milkweed, which contributes to their vivid coloring and intriguing behavior. In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about this intriguing species.
Milkweed plants, such as Asclepias viridiflora, provide an essential source of nourishment for numerous insects, including monarch butterflies and green milkweed grasshoppers. These grasshoppers consume the milkweed leaves, which contain toxic chemicals that protect the insects from predators. The ingestion of these toxins helps to give green milkweed grasshoppers their bright coloration, acting as a warning signal to potential predators that they are unpalatable.
In addition to their interesting eating habits and appearance, green milkweed grasshoppers exhibit other remarkable traits. For instance, they engage in an interesting reproductive behavior that involves depositing their eggs on various milkweed plant species. This ensures that the emerging grasshopper nymphs have an immediate food source upon hatching, promoting their survival and continued existence within their specialized habitats.
Overview of Green Milkweed Grasshopper
Scientific Classification and Morphology
The Green Milkweed Grasshopper, scientifically known as Phymateus viridipes, is a species of grasshopper native to Africa. This grasshopper has a distinct appearance, with some of its remarkable features being:
- Vibrant green color
- Relatively large size
- Spines on the body
- Elongated forewings
Distribution and Habitat
The Green Milkweed Grasshopper is commonly found in various regions across Africa. Their preferred habitats include:
- Open woodlands
These grasshoppers are often associated with milkweed plants, as their name suggests.
The life cycle of the Green Milkweed Grasshopper can be briefly summarized as follows:
Nymphs: The young grasshoppers emerge from their eggs and grow through several stages (instars) before reaching adulthood.
Adults: Adult grasshoppers are active during the day, feeding on plants and mating.
In general, the Green Milkweed Grasshopper’s life cycle is indicative of typical grasshopper species, with some regional variations in their distribution and habitat preferences.
Relationship with Milkweed
Feeding and Nutritional Needs
Green Milkweed Grasshoppers feed on milkweed plants, specifically targeting the leaves, flowers, and seed pods. This provides them with essential nutrients for their growth and development. Some examples of milkweed species they might feed on include:
- Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)
- Showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa)
- Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)
Toxicity and Defense Mechanisms
Milkweed plants contain cardiac glycosides, which are toxic compounds that can affect heart function in most animals. However, Green Milkweed Grasshoppers have developed adaptations that allow them to detoxify and utilize these compounds for their own protection. By feeding on milkweed, these grasshoppers accumulate the toxins in their body, which in turn makes them unpalatable to predators.
Milkweed Varieties and Preference
Of the aforementioned milkweed species, Green Milkweed Grasshoppers may show preferences towards one over another. Some factors to consider:
- Availability: Native plants like common milkweed are widespread and easily accessible in certain regions
- Nutritional value: Different milkweed species might offer varying levels of nutrients or the concentration of cardiac glycosides
- Growth patterns: Green Milkweed Grasshoppers may prefer perennials that produce ample foliage, flowers, and seed pods for consumption
|Milkweed Species||Availability||Nutritional Value||Growth Patterns|
In conclusion, Green Milkweed Grasshoppers exhibit an intricate relationship with milkweed plants, which provide them with essential nutrients and defense mechanisms through the consumption of leaves, flowers, and seed pods. They may show preferences for specific milkweed varieties based on factors such as availability, nutritional value, and growth patterns.
Impact on Environment and Ecosystem
Pollinators and Beneficial Insects
The Green Milkweed Grasshopper plays a role in the ecosystem, especially in relation to plants, butterflies, and bees.
- Plants: Grasshoppers feed on grasses and other vegetation.
- Butterflies: Their presence may attract predators like birds that might also feed on caterpillars.
- Bees: Grasshoppers can provide a food source for predatory insects, creating a balance in the ecosystem.
Threats and Challenges
The Green Milkweed Grasshopper faces multiple threats and challenges:
- Climate change: Alters grassland habitats and vegetation, impacts their life cycles (source).
- Parasites: Some parasites and diseases may affect their populations.
- Pesticides: Chemicals used for pest control might harm non-target species like grasshoppers (source).
A comparison table showing the effects of two threats:
|Threat||Impact on Green Milkweed Grasshopper||Impact on Ecosystem|
|Climate change||Altered habitats, life cycle changes||Disruption of ecological balance|
|Pesticides||Direct harm||Non-target species affected|
Organizations like the Xerces Society work to conserve grasshopper habitats:
- Restore grasslands: by improving habitat quality.
- Plant species: species like Tropical Milkweed are essential for pollinators like monarch butterflies.
- Reduce pesticide use: in efforts to support beneficial insect populations.
Economic and Agricultural Implications
Pest Impact on Crops
Green Milkweed Grasshoppers are known to feed on milkweed plants, but they can also cause damage to various crops. For example, they can negatively impact:
- Prairies, by consuming native plants
- Crops in states such as Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Tennessee
Although not as damaging as some other grasshopper species, their feeding habits can hinder crop growth during midsummer, when they’re most active.
Controlling Grasshopper Populations
Controlling grasshopper populations is essential to minimize their impact on crops. Here are some safe methods to keep their colonies in check:
- Use insecticides, but only those safe for beneficial insects
- Encourage natural predators, like birds or parasitic wasps
- Maintain healthy prairie ecosystems, providing a balance of insect and plant species
For larger infestations, chemical insecticides may be used, such as organophosphates.
Pros and Cons of Pest Control Methods
|Insecticides||Effective against grasshoppers||Can harm beneficial insects, possible toxins|
|Natural Predators||Environmentally friendly, no chemicals required||Less predictable, partial control only|
|Habitat Management||Promotes biodiversity, supports healthy ecosystems||Time-consuming, requires monitoring|
Milkweed and Livestock
Milkweed plants, while essential for Green Milkweed Grasshopper populations, can pose risks to livestock. The milkweed flower and milkweed pods contain toxins that can be harmful to grazing animals, as well as pets. Precautions include:
- Wearing gloves when handling milkweed
- Ensuring livestock don’t consume milkweed in hay
- Monitoring pets near milkweed plants
By carefully managing milkweed populations and exercising caution around these plants, it’s possible to minimize risks to both agriculture and livestock.
Cultivating Milkweed in Gardens
Growing Conditions and Requirements
Green milkweed grasshoppers rely on milkweed plants, making it essential to grow milkweed in gardens. Milkweed thrives in:
- Full sun: At least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily
- Well-drained soil: Lightweight soil to prevent root rot
Milkweed is a perennial plant, which means it returns every year without replanting. It’s beneficial against climate change by supporting native plants and wildlife.
Plant Selection and Companion Planting
When selecting milkweeds for your garden, choose native plants to your region. Examples include:
- Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed)
- Asclepias tuberosa (butterflyweed)
- Asclepias verticillata (whorled milkweed)
Companion plant milkweed with other nectar-rich plants to attract pollinators and create a more diverse habitat. Some good options are:
- Wildflowers like goldenrod and asters
- Flowering perennials like coneflowers and bee balm
According to the Xerces Society, milkweed plants support monarch butterfly populations and other wildlife.
Maintaining and Harvesting Milkweed
To maintain your milkweed garden:
- Provide regular water until established, then water only during dry spells.
- Apply a layer of mulch to conserve moisture and reduce weeds.
- Prune dead or diseased foliage to promote healthy growth.
When harvesting milkweed seeds, follow these steps:
- Wait until seed pods are dry and starting to split open.
- Collect seeds and store in a cool, dark place.
- Sow seeds in spring, giving them plenty of space to grow.
By cultivating milkweed in your garden, you’ll support green milkweed grasshoppers, monarch butterflies, and other wildlife.
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 – South African Grasshopper
South African grasshopper
I attach a photo of a grasshopper I saw in Karoo National Park in South Africa while on holiday this January. It was at least 75mm long and I have never seen an insect so beautifully coloured. Can you possibly identify it for me please?
Most of the colorful South African Grasshoppers are poisonous. We are consulting with Eric Eaton for a possibly species identification. Here is Eric’s input: “The South African grasshopper is in the Pyrgomorphidae, will try to remember to check my book at home for a possible species ID.”
Colorful South African Grasshopper (05/21/2006)
I believe that the colorful South African grasshopper on your homepage is Zonocerus elegans. If I am correct, they can have long wings or short wings, but they are all very colorful. Hope this helps,
Update (05/24/2006) Eric Eaton has this to add:
Ok, the South African grasshopper is probably something in the genus Zonocerus, perhaps Z. elegans. Apparently they can be quite the pest, and even ‘Livestock avoid eating bushes infested with this species,’ according to my Field Guide to Insects of South Africa, by Mike Picker, Charles Griffiths, and Alan Weaving. You don’t say! Ha, I wouldn’t eat a bush full of those ‘hoppers, either. Eric”
Letter 2 – Koppie Foam Grasshopper from South Africa
Subject: Dictyophorus spumans
Location: Krugersdorp, South Africa
March 20, 2014 1:59 am
The Locust I found Yesterday.
On research I discovered it may be the above.
Is the foam toxic to humans?
Signature: Sharon Parkinson
Your identification is correct and the common name for your individual is the Koppie Foam Grasshopper, one of the Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers. According to NeatNature: “The Koppie Foam Grasshopper is indeed toxic, consuming poisonous plants and storing the toxins inside their bodies. The are also known for bathing themselves in a noxious foam when threatened. Through glands along their thorax, it is able to squeeze out a putrid foam which then covers them. The smell and the taste is enough to ward off any predator curious enough to get too close.” According to Project Noah: “Many members of this family (Pyrogomorphidae) can produce a defensive foamy secretion from there thoracic region which contain strong and poisonous chemicals, nasty deterrent and hence the vivid warning coloration. The Pyrgomorphs are also referred to as ‘Gaudy Grasshoppers’. The warning coloration reflects their poisonous nature. The nymphs consume poisonous plants such as Milkweeds and retain the chemicals which include cardiac glycosids (heart poisons). There are records of dogs dying after eating these grasshoppers. One would have imagined that such a distinctive looking locust/grasshopper would be easily identified but unfortunately this has not proved to be the case. I initially located 2 other photos of this species on the web but neither author had committed to a species ID beyond genus. Progress: we (the PN community) now believe that this is a subadult of the species Dictyophorus spumans, with adult coloration and that the earlier nymph stages are much more black with red trimmings.” It is our understanding that the toxins will also affect humans.
Letter 3 – Green Milkweed Locust from Malawi
Subject: Coloured grasshopper
Location: Mulange Massif in Malawi
December 16, 2013 6:06 am
Just one mor for fun: a quite coloured grasshopper I found in ther Mulange Massif in Malawi
Hi again Robert,
In trying to research the identity of this Grasshopper, we discovered several images that look quite similar, but alas, there is no proper identification. The first image we found is on Getty Images Stock Photography, and the second image we located is on FlickR. We believe this individual is in the family Pyrgomorphidae, the Gaudy Grasshoppers or Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers. Continued searching under the family name led us to iNaturalist where we believe we may have correctly identified your grasshopper as Phymateus viridipes. According to iNaturalist: “Phymateus viridipes Stal, aka Green Milkweed Locust or African Bush Grasshopper, belonging to the family Pyrgomorphidae (Gaudy Grasshoppers), is an African locust about 70 millimetres (2.8 in) long at maturity and capable of long migratory flights. Its body and forewings are green in colour while the hindwings are bright red and blue, presenting a striking appearance in flight. The pronotum, or dorsal area immediately behind the head, is covered in spines or carbuncles which are often tipped with red. The nymphs or hoppers are bright yellow and black and highly gregarious, forming large groups during this growth stage and are more or less polyphagous. As with other Phymateus species it raises and rustles its wings when disturbed and may secrete a noxious fluid from its thoracic joint. This locust feeds on highly toxic plants such as Acokanthera oppositifolia and Secamone alpinii. They congregate in large numbers on trees and shrubs, arranged in such a way as to resemble foliage.” This beautiful Grasshopper is pictured on stamps from several African countries, including Swaziland and Rwanda.
Letter 4 – Green Milkweed Locust from South Africa
Hi I’ve recently posted a picture of, what I think is a grasshopper, on Flickr, it’s so striking it got me wondering what it was. I’ve been unable to find any similar images on the internet. This was taken in Wilderness, South Africa, on the south coast, it was taken in January 2000. I would guess it was 50-50mm long. I caught this monster by the side of a track in South Africa. Took me a long time to convince myself it was real. Be interested if anyone can identify it. Thanks for any help.
What a stunning specimen, but alas, we don’t recognize it. Perhaps one of our readers will. Sure enough, Eric Eaton wrote in: “The lime green and black grasshopper is in the family Pyrgomorphidae. Don’t know what species, though. Perhaps Phymateus leprosus, and a nymph rather than an adult. Eric”
About the lime green & black grasshopper: I have to agree with Eric Eaton that the grasshopper is probably P. leprosus, sometimes referred to as Maphyteus leprosus. I have linked a great photo of an adult found on the web. The two large “knobs” at the front of the thorax are diagnostic, i believe, of P. leprosus. The nymph in question also exhibits these structures.
Letter 5 – Common Milkweed Locust from South Africa
Subject: south-african grasshopper
August 2, 2014 3:23 am
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
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.
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.
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.
Letter 6 – Ak Grasshopper from India: Poekilocerus pictus
IS IT A PAINTED GRASSHOPPER
October 8, 2009
I saw this insect sitting on the leaf of
Milkweek Plant. This area is a part of
Buffer area of SGNP forest. Since it’s
eyecatching i took two to three Pics.
THANE, MAHARASHTRA, INDIA.
Hi HARI IYER,
Since you found this grasshopper on milkweed, we wonder if perhaps it might be one of the Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers in the family Pyromorphidae. Sadly, we have decided we need to go to sleep for the night, and our brief internet search did not reveal a species name for your lovely grasshopper. Perhaps one of our readers will provide an answer for us.
Update: Thanks to Karl for the comment with the identification. The link provided the following information:
“Poekilocerus pictus belonging to Family Pyrogomorphinae (known for cryptic as well as bright colours hence called Gaudy Grasshoppers are also known for “Spear” shaped heads) is commonly known as Ak Grasshopper (and one of the many Painted Grasshoppers), and is one of the most colorful grasshoppers of India. The nymphs display spots of varied colours from yellow, orange to blue and green. The adults show yellow and blue striped on head and thorax, a bright red abdomen, green-yellow forewings and red hind wings which are seen only in flight. The adults grow to about 60mm and are capable of good flight.
The adults are generally seen post-monsoon and, if conditions are favorable, they swarm. The food plant for this is Calotropis sp., especially C. procera, however it is known to attack many crops (including C. gigantea – Giant Milkweed). The color in nymphs as well as adults is bright and warning and is explained due to the presence of toxic alkaloids present in Calotropis they feed on.
The eggs are laid in “pods” (each pod contains 70 – 200 eggs) during the monsoon months June to August, and the nymphs hatch around September. The nymphs are usually seen near Calotropis plants, and by October the adults are seen specifically on the food plant. I have no records of finding it in the months after monsoon, however literature says that eggs laid in the month of September to November that hatch in April – May, here the incubation period is longer than during monsoon months due to, perhaps, climatic conditions.
According to literature, the adults are also known to turn cannibalistic even in the presence of ample food – for reasons unknown!”
Letter 7 – Milkweed Grasshopper from South Africa
Fri, Jan 2, 2009 at 8:49 AM
The colourful little (well not so little) grasshopper in the picture and three of his friends/family have decided to make a plant outside our gate their home. The rest of the family appears to have moved on. We thing it is a Milkweed grasshopper. Please confirm this. Also can you tell us how to remove them without 1) getting hurt/poisoned ourselves and 2) hurting the grasshoppers.
We first did a google search to substantiate that Mpumalanga is in fact in South Africa because your image matched a photo taken in January 2000 that we received back in February 2006. That specimen was eventually identified as Phymateus leprosus , one of the Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers or Gaudy Grasshoppers in the family Pyrgomorphidae . This species is also called a Bush Locust or sometimes Bushlocust. The toxicity, if our information is correct, results in ingesting them, not from handling them. You should be able to just catch them and release them to a more suitable location. Your specimen is an immature nymph as adults have fully developed wings.
Letter 8 – Wings of a Green Milkweed Locust from South Africa
Subject: Need Wing Identification
Geographic location of the bug: South Africa
Time: 02:58 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: I found these wings in my yard and i canot find anything on google please help
How you want your letter signed: Please just email me thanks a lot
These are Grasshopper wings, and we are very confident they are the wings of a Green Milkweed Locust, Phymateus viridipes. As they are toxic to many animals and presumably unpalatable to others, we are curious what ate the body and left the wings behind. Here is an image from FlickR and information on Wikipedia.
Letter 9 – Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper from South Africa
Subject: What is this?
Location: Pietermaritzburg [South Africa]
January 28, 2013 7:46 am
I found this eating a plant in my garden at the weekend. Can you help me identify it? I think it’s a locust or grasshopper.
This is a Grasshopper in the family Pyrgomorphidae, a group sometimes called the Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers because many family members feed on milkweed and they are able to retain toxic compounds in their bodies that act as a deterrent to predators. Many Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers also have aposomatic or warning coloration. The striped antennae and cobalt blue markings near the base of the legs are distinctive and we will attempt to find a species name for you. We have not seen any examples with this much black in the coloration and we are not certain if this is a subspecies, an example of individual variation or a new species for our site.
Thanks for your swift response. It will be interesting to see if you come up with a species! I hope it was of interest to you.
They are lovely photos of a beautiful Grasshopper and we are happy to include them in our archive.
Update: January 20, 2015
We now believe this individual is a female Maura rubroornata based on this image posted to iSpot. Here is another image from iSpot. There are images of mounted specimens on Orthoptera Species File, and there appear to be significant variations in the markings of this species.
Letter 10 – Blistered Grasshopper from Australia
I have a photo of a type of grass hopper and was wondering is it native to Western Australia and if it is what’s the grass hoppers name?
We couldn’t locate your Grasshopper on Geocities, but we thought it resembled the Pyrgomorphidae species we have identified in South Africa. That was a good hunch as this turns out to be a Blistered Grasshopper, Monistria pustulifera, also known as the Inland Painted Grasshopper. The Australian Insect Website states: “The blistered grasshopper (or pyrgomorph) belongs to the family Pyrgomorphidae. This family has some of the smallest and some of the largest grasshoppers in Australia. The pustulifera species can grow up to 65mm in length. This short horned grasshopper has a mottled body, with orange-yellow spots all over.” South African Pyrgomorphs are toxic because they feed on milkweed. The same may be true of the Blistered Grasshopper. Thanks for adding a new Australian species to our site. It is rare for us to get Australian submissions during Northern Hemisphere summer, or perhaps the shear volume of American submissions at that time causes us to overlook letters from down under.
Letter 11 – Blistered Grasshopper from Australia
Location: Emerald, Queensland, Australia, Southern Hemisphere
May 15, 2013 4:44 am
This week we have found these grasshoppers in our garden and we haven’t been able to find any images on line to identify what they are. Can you please let us know what we have found??
Signature: Sharon Wilkins
We quickly identified your Blistered Grasshopper, Monistria pustulifera, thanks to the Australian Insects website. It is also called the Arid Inland Painted Grasshopper, and Australian Insects states: “The blistered grasshopper (or pyrgomorph) belongs to the family Pyrgomorphidae. This family has some of the smallest and some of the largest grasshoppers in Australia. The pustulifera species can grow up to 65mm in length. This short horned grasshopper has a mottled body, with orange-yellow spots all over.” The Blistered Grasshopper is also pictured on Gaia Guide.
Letter 12 – Blistered Grasshopper from Australia
Location: Tom Price, Pilbara, Western Australia
April 10, 2015 2:54 am
I found this guy in a bush near my work and would be interested to know a little more about him. 🙂
Your images of a Blistered Grasshopper, Monistria pustulifera, are quite beautiful. Atlas of Living Australia indicates sightings over much of Australia. According to AuseMade: “This species commonly called the Blistered Pyrgomorph is a short horned, flightless grasshopper. The Blistered Pyrgomorph move so little, that their entire life cycle can be completed under a single bush. Brightly coloured, its mottled body is coloured orange-yellow spots, most probably a warning to potential predators, that pyrgomorphs are poisonous to eat.”
Thankyou Daniel that is fascinating. 🙂 I appreciate your effort and prompt response.
Letter 13 – Coffee Locust from Nepal
Location: Nepal – Himalaya
December 24, 2012 2:42 pm
Hi. Here’s another photo from my friend Skip Moss, from his recent journey to Nepal. My search for more info on this guy is painfully slow – computer/browser issues today. Thanks so much for any insights…as always!
This is the Coffee Locust or Spotted Grasshopper, Ausarches miliaris. According to Western Ghats, it “Damages Coconut, arecanut, jack, plantain, tea, cocoa, rubber and many poisonous plants. When disturbed produces a white foul smelling deterrent…” The species was originally described by Linnaeus in 1758 according to the Orthoptera Species File website.
Letter 14 – Coffee Locust from Nepal Ghats
Subject: Species of this Grasshopper
Location: Nepal Ghats
October 8, 2016 11:46 pm
My friend is traveling in Nepal and photographed a variety that I have yet to be able to identify. It is very similar to the Nepal Coffee Locust and is likely a milkweed grasshopper varietal of some kind. Could you help us come up with a species name it is truly beautiful. Thank you
Signature: Ranger Bert
Dear Ranger Bert,
We see from a comment you have provided to a posting in our archives that you have used the more than 20,000 postings on our site to identify this Coffee Locust, Ausarches miliaris, a member of the family Pyrgomorphidae, the Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers that flaunt this toxicity or bad taste through aposomatic or warning coloration. The images we have found online, including on the Insects in Indian Agroecosystems and Macroclub, have yellow or white banded faces. Your individual may represent a different species in the genus, a subspecies, or most likely just a color variation. According to ZipcodeZoo: “It swarms in October, the mating and egg-laying season, collecting on bushes and grasses. It is heavy and sluggish, able to make only short leaps, very visible on vegetation. Outbreaks leading to this species damaging cultivated crops are uncommon. When A. miliaris (of either sex) is disturbed or grabbed, it emits a sharp rasping noise from its thoracic segments. If its thorax is pinched, it also squirts a clear viscous mucus with unpleasant smell and a bitter taste, faintly alkaline, with many embedded bubbles. This foam comes out as a strong jet from apertures in the thorax, and more gently from other openings in the body (ten in total); it heaps up around the insect and partly covers it.”
Thank you so much.
My friends use me to help ID stuff all the time and this guy stumped me with its colors. Really appreciate your time and expertise.
Brett Thomsen (aka Ranger Bert)
Letter 15 – Countdown, just Ten more postings to 20,000: Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper from South Africa
Location: about 15 km west of Port Elizabeth
March 30, 2015 9:59 am
On a January (2015) trip to the Eastern Cape of South Africa, we stopped the car to enable the pictured creature to cross the road. It was walking quite slowly, but determined. Body length was around 5cm (=2 inches). Not having any detailed field guide for S.African insects, I just couldn’t put a name to it, although I suspect it’s some kind of locust. We don’t see its like in the UK!
Signature: Neil Henry
This magnificent grasshopper is a member of the family Pyrgomorphidae and many individuals in the family are known as Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers, Gaudy Grasshoppers or Koppie Foam Grasshoppers. We believe we have correctly identified your individual as Phymateus leprosus subsp. leprosus based on an image on iSpot. This seems to be a variably colored species.
Letter 16 – Variegated Grasshopper from Cameroon
Subject: Yet another coloured grasshopper
Location: Cameroon, near Bamenda
December 16, 2013 6:12 am
.. found in Cameroon, near Bamenda.
In the third pic you can see it watching the camera, I think.
Hi again Robert,
We actually identified this Elegant Grasshopper while researching the previous posting. We first found a postage stamp from 1970 Malawi with the Elegant Grasshopper, Zonocerus elegans, beautifully rendered. That led us to numerous other images, including BioLib and Biodiversity Explorer. The coloring and markings on your individual are slightly different, and we suspect this is individual variation, though it might indicate a different species in the same genus. Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers in the family Pyrgomorphidae should be handled with caution as they can exude a toxic substance if carelessly handled.
Update: February 22, 2014
We just received a correction that this is a different species in the same genus. It is the Variegated Grasshopper, Zonocerus variegatus, and there is a nice image on PBase.
Letter 17 – Elegant Grasshopper from Rwanda
Location: Lake Kivi, Rwanda
July 19, 2012
this is surely the most handsome of insects.
found in rubengera, close to lake kivu, in a field.
would love to know what it is called.
We found an image of this beautiful Elegant Grasshopper, Zonocerus elegans, also known as the Rainbow Locust, in our own archive. Last year, Karl wrote to us: “They are apparently slow and clumsy, relying primarily on their accumulated toxins for protection from predators. The toxins make them taste bad, although apparently not bad enough to make them inedible for humans. I found numerous references suggesting they are eaten in various parts of Africa.” Say hello to Jessica and the mountain gorillas and we miss you and Mark back in Mt Washington, Los Angeles.
Letter 18 – Elegant Grasshopper from South Africa
Subject: Lubber grasshopper?
Geographic location of the bug: Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Time: 08:53 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Hi there
Please help identify this grasshopper. My son and I found it hanging around on our front gate.
We have it contained in a small container with air holes and will release it after looking at it for a day or so.
How you want your letter signed: Kurt Swart
This is one of the Gaudy Grasshoppers or Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers in the family Pyrgomorphidae, a family that includes many members with bright aposomatic coloration to warn predators about the foul taste or toxic properties if this Grasshopper is eaten. Age Foto Stock has a nice image of a mating pair. Previously, we identified this species as the Elegant Grasshopper, Zonocerus elegans.
Letter 19 – Elegant Grasshopper from South Africa
Subject: Stunning and Curious Grasshopper
Location: Marloth Park, South Africa
April 18, 2014 3:49 am
I’m a travel blogger (at www.travelsandtripulations.com) currently in South Africa. I’ve given a shout-out to my readers about your site, because it’s so fabulous. And now I need your help. What in the world kind of grasshopper is this? He is gorgeous. He was studying me as intently as I was studying him.
And would it, by any chance, leave a hard yellow, white and black striped “shell” when it dies? I recently found one on the ground that looks similar to his body. But we’ve also seen a lot of furry yellow black and white striped caterpillars that I’ve been unable to identify (last pic)
I appreciate your help! Thank you!
Your beautiful grasshopper is appropriately named an Elegant Grasshopper or Rainbow Locust, Zonocerus elegans , and it is one of the Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers in the family Pyrgomorphidae. We do not believe that the exuvia or shed skin of a Grasshopper would be very hard or durable. Providing a photo would make it easier for us to respond to that question.
Wow. I’m so pleasantly surprised about how quickly you responded! Thank you, kindly. My next blog post (going out on or about Monday) will include a nice big shout-out for your work. Thank you! Tomorrow I’ll go outside and see if I can find that “skin” and take a photo. It looks like it has little feet attached to it.Almost like what a millipede would have but it’s striped – yellow, black, white. It’s quite beautiful and fascinating. There’s a lot of awesome bug activity here. I’ve been having a blast seeing all these critters – even the Orb Spiders that kind of creep me out and fascinate me all at the same time.
Anyway, thank you, Mr. Marlos!
Hello Mr. Bugman!
I just published a blog post touting your site and applauding your fabulous bug skills. Here ya go: http://www.travelsandtripulations.com/2014/04/21/the-wildlife-of-marloth-park-south-africa/
Letter 20 – Foaming Grasshopper from South Africa
What’s this bug’s name?
SEEN IN HERMON, SOUTH AFRICA, LAST MONTH. CAN YOU HELP ME? THANKS,
Letter 21 – Gaudy Grasshopper from Indonesia
I would love to know what it is that I had the previlage of photographing here. I encountered this bug in Bali, Indonesia. The insect is wet, because we had just fished it out of a pond in which the it was drowning tangled in the algae. I thought that it was a Balinese prince which had been turned into an insect by a spell. I am still waiting for my reward for saving the prince. If you don’t ID it, then I can keep believe that. =)
The prince is a nice thought, but we believe this to be one of the Gaudy Grasshoppers in the family Pyrgomorphidae. We have only gotten images of Gaudy Grasshoppers from Africa in the past, but some internet research indicates they are also found in Indonesia. The African species are also known as Milkweed Grasshoppers. They feed on milkweed and incorporate the toxins from the plant into their own systems, hence they are toxic to most amimals. The bright warning colors let the predators know to keep away. We were unsuccessful in getting you a species name on this beautiful Gaudy Grasshopper.
Gaudy Grasshopper from Indonesia 03/20/2008
I believe the Gaudy grasshopper from Indonesia is Aularches milaris. Hope this info helps,
Letter 22 – Gaudy Grasshopper from South Africa
Location: Coffee Bay, Wild Coast, South Africa
January 8, 2015 9:12 am
I would like to know what type of grasshopper this is.
Signature: Dalina Geldenhuys
This colorful Grasshopper is in the family Pyrgomorphidae, and the members are commonly called Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers, Gaudy Grasshoppers or Koppie Foam Grasshoppers. We believe your individual is a female Maura rubroornata based on this image posted to iSpot. Here is another image from iSpot. There are images of mounted specimens on Orthoptera Species File, and there appear to be significant variations in the markings of this species.
Letter 23 – Grasshopper from Djibouti
Subject: What’s that bug ?
Geographic location of the bug: Djibouti
Time: 03:43 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Found this kind of grasshopper today near my workplace, any idea of her name ?
How you want your letter signed: jodrak
We have a similar looking Grasshopper in our archives, also from Djibouti, but we have never been able to ascertain a species name. We also located this unidentified Grasshopper on FlickR. We believe this is a Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper in the family Pyrgomorphidae.
Letter 24 – Grasshopper from Israel is Usher-Hopper
Subject: Judean Milkweed Grasshopper
Location: Judean Desert, Israel
March 22, 2015 1:35 am
I was on a hike in the Judean Desert last week, and I came across a few interesting and beautiful insects. This milkweed grasshopper is one I haven’t seen in a long time. I presume it’s a male because of its relatively small size (about 4cm long), and the wings extend beyond the abdomen, but I’m not sure.
He was very calm, sat still for a good photo op.
Signature: Ben from Israel
We believe your Grasshopper is a male Poekilocerus bufonius which we first identified on Age Fotostock and then verified on PBase where it is called an Usher-Hopper. Encyclopedia of Life does place it in the family Pyrgomorphidae. Remember, in the future, you should submit larger digital files.
Letter 25 – Grasshopper from Madagascar: Phymateus saxosus or sosux
Whats That Bug?
Hello Whats That Bug?
I found this grasshopper in the mountains of Madagascar. The people there call it tumateus. It is about 10cm and eats toxic plants. Do you know any source of information about this bug? I didn’t personally take the picture. Would it be possible for you to add a photo credit to www.tsaracamp-madagascar.com? Its a website I’m currently working on and for which I’m seeking the information for that particular toxic grasshopper. In case I find any details I’ll forward it to you.
It was our childhood dream to see the exotica in Madagascar. We don’t know what this is, but will try doing some additional research. Meanwhile, we are posting it because it is so gorgeous.
I happened by your website and can pass on a couple of names for you. On your main page the first two photographs are: Madagascar grasshopper – Phymateus, probably P. saxosus. There is a photo of this on the back cover of American Entomologist 40(4), Winter 1994 labeled P. sosux, but this may be a misspelling of sosux. Alternatively, they may both be good names.
I just saw the beautiful picture of the appropri ately identified Phymateus saxosus on your site. They are a member of the Pyrgomorphidae. I have a preserved specimen of P. saxosus on my office wall, but it hasn’t retained it’s bright blue coloration. It’s hind wings are a bright magenta tipped with black spots. I have seen & heard P. saxosus sometimes referred to by the common names of Rainbow Bush Locust, Rainbow Milkweed Locust, or Giant Milkweek Locust. I believe its high toxicity comes from milkweed or similar toxic plants, hence the common name.
Letter 26 – Green Bush Locust
Grasshopper from SA
I found this Grasshopper on my lawn (in South Africa) last summer and would really like to know its name and family. Thank you,
This is a Green Bush Locust, Phymateus viridipes. It is one of the toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers. Your photo is quite stunning.
Letter 27 – Green Milkweed Locust
Subject: Nymph Phymateus viridipes?
Location: Kitgum, Uganda
August 31, 2014 8:52 pm
Hello! My mom recently traveled to Uganda (August 2014) and took some photographs of some really neat large grasshoppers. They was photographed in Kitgum, Uganda. I think they may be nymph Phymateus viridipes? Do you agree?
We agree with your identification of Phymateus viridipes, the Green Milkweed Locust, one of the Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers in the family Pyrgomorphidae. You can compare your image to the ones on iSpot.
Letter 28 – Green Milkweed Locust from Mozambique
Subject: Locust from Mozambique
Location: Mozambique Africa
December 4, 2016 11:02 am
Hi , good morning , i have some bugs photos from my son who is in Mozambique
Will like to know what species or genres .
Signature: DANIEL BENARROCH
This is one of the Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers or Gaudy Grasshoppers in the family Pyrgomorphidae. We are pretty confident that it is the Green Milkweed Locust, Phymateus viridipes, which we found on Jungle Dragon, and verified on pBase where it states: “These grasshoppers are toxic enough to cause death if eaten. Not a good idea anyway, based on looks alone.”
Letter 29 – Bug of the Month February 2015: Green Milkweed Locust from South Africa
Subject: UNKNOWN GRASSHOPPER
Location: Botriver Western Cape
January 30, 2015 6:24 am
My hubby and I were in Botriver over the past two weeks ie. 14 to 25 Jan 2015.
We captured this stunning picture of what we believe is a grasshopper of sorts. Absolutely beautiful, never seen anything like it in my life.
Thought you might like to have a look at it and maybe identify it for me?
thanks so much.
Your images are stunning and this Grasshopper is gorgeous. It is a member of the family Pyrgomorphidae, commonly called the Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers. They feed on milkweed, and many species are ably to synthesize and store compounds from the plants that render the grasshoppers toxic. They also have aposomatic or warning coloration to ward off predators. Your individual is a Green Milkweed Locust, Phymateus leprosus, and you can verify our identification on iSpot.
Letter 30 – Herd of Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers hatch in South Africa
South African grasshopper
Location: South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal, Hillcrest/Pinetown
December 9, 2011 8:14 am
took these pics during a trip to KwaZulu-Natal in October 2006, in a park outside of Durban. Hordes of grasshoppers emerged from the ground – at several different locations but almost simultaneously – thousands of them. Managed to get some pics of them emerging and several shots of individuals. Found similar pictures on your site – toxic milkweed grasshopper?what fascinated me most was that they alla hatched at the same moment. Any info on their life cycles,what triggers etc?
Signature: Jo Cannon
Congratulations on properly identifying your Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers in the family Pyrgomorphidae using our site. Your photographs are stunning. We are running a bit late at the moment and cannot devote more time to this posting, but we will do additional research later. We also need to subcategorize the numerous postings of Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers in an effort to clean up our archives.
Letter 31 – Horselubber Grasshopper in Mexico and Tanzanian Grasshopper
Thu, Oct 16, 2008 at 7:25 AM
Thank you for identifying my “Spined Micrathena.” I recently moved from New Hampshire to Mexico and keep finding bugs that I have never seen before. Doing a Google search for “Spined Micrathena” I noticed that mine was the most colorful I could find.
I hope you can also identify this grasshopper – He is somewhat similar to this one I found in Tanzania in 1993 –
The Mexican Grasshopper is a Horse Lubber Grasshopper, Taeniopoda eques, and we suspect the Tanzanian Grasshopper is one of the toxic milkweed grasshoppers in the family Pyrgomorphidae. It is not an exact match to this specimen we found online, but it has similarities.
Letter 32 – Immature Painted Grasshopper from India
Subject: Want to know the genus and species
Geographic location of the bug: Himachal pradesh, India
Time: 08:50 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Please tell me about this grasshopper
How you want your letter signed: Mr.wild
This is an immature Painted Grasshopper or Ak Grasshopper, Poekilocerus pictus, one of the toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers in the family Pyrgomorphidae. Jungle Dragon has some nice images of nymphs. We also have images of brightly colored, winged adult Painted Grasshoppers on our site. According to Your Shot National Geographic: “Ak Grasshopper, is one of the most colorful grasshoppers of India. The nymphs display spots of varied colours from yellow, orange to blue and green. The adults show yellow and blue striped on head and thorax, a bright red abdomen, green-yellow forewings and red hind wings which are seen only in flight. The adults grow to about 60mm and are capable of good flight. The food is Giant Milkweed Plant.The eggs are laid in ‘pods’ (each pod contains 70 – 200 eggs) during the monsoon months.”
Letter 33 – Immature Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper from South Africa
South African Grasshopper
Mon, Jan 5, 2009 at 7:43 AM
Photographed at Cape Point, SA. A photo is attached.
Cape Point, South Africa
This is an immature Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper, AKA Gaudy Grasshopper, AKA Bushlocust, in the family Pyrgomorphidae. It may be Phymateus saxosus, but we are not certain. Grasshoppers in this family feed on toxic milkweed and stores the toxic compounds in their bodies. If injested, sickness or possibly even death may result. The warning colors are a signal to not eat.
Letter 34 – Immature Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper from Madagascar
Subject: Toxic grasshopper ID
Location: Madagascar, Andringitra National Park
January 26, 2014 4:53 am
I’m trying to ID the attached grasshopper – seen in Andringitra National Park, Madagascar, and known locally simply as a “toxic cricket”.
It looks like a Phymateus milkweed grasshopper, as far as I can work out from Google, but I’ve not seen photos with quite the same black/orange colouring (no yellow or red), and short, stubby wingcases.
Length is probably about 6-7 cm, so quite a big insect.
This is definitely a Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper in the family Pyrgomorphidae. We located a matching photo taken on Madagascar on Dorit Bar Zakay’s blog that is identified as a young Phymateus saxosus. The color and markings change will change as it develops into an adult, and the wings will also increase in size and become functional. We have a photo of an adult Phymateus saxosus from Madagascar on our site and there is no shortage of photos of adults online. Previous research indicates that it is also called a Rainbow Bush Locust. We also learned that locals refer to this as a Ghost Grasshopper.
Letter 35 – Koppie Foam Grasshopper
Subject: Identify Grasshopper
Location: Mpumalanga Pelgrimsrest area
May 27, 2015 4:16 am
There are quite a few of this beautiful black & red with a touch of blue grasshoppers in the Drakensberg area between Pelgrimsrest and Orhrigstad in the Mpumalanga district. I have looked through various books & tried to identify this grasshopper but had no success. It seems as though they do not have developed wings .
Signature: Naomi Le Roux
Your Grasshopper is a Koppie Foam Grasshopper, Dictyophorus spumans, which you can view on iSpot. According to iNaturalist: “the koppie foam grasshopper or rooibaadjie, is a species of grasshopper in the family Pyrgomorphidae indigenous to Africa. The name “foaming grasshopper” derives from the insect’s ability to produce a toxic foam from its thoracic glands.”
Letter 36 – Koppie Foam Grasshopper
Location: Cape Town South Africa
April 14, 2016 6:35 am
I took some pictures of a huge grasshopper.
Think its a juvenile, cause it had no proper wings developed.
Size was r.a. 12cm which is really big for a grasshopper
Picture was taken on mid november in Cape Town
Based on this and other images posted to iSpot, we have identified this as a Koppie Foam Grasshopper, Dictyophorus spumans, one of the Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers in the family Pyrgomorphidae. Many species feed on milkweed, and they are able to process and absorb the toxic compounds in the plant, which gives the Grasshoppers protection against predators. Many members of the family advertise with aposomatic or warning colors.
Letter 37 – Koppie Foam Grasshopper from Kenya
Subject: Kenyan grasshopper?
Location: Nairobi, Kenya
November 13, 2015 6:48 am
Several of these were in the grounds of the hotel in the Langata district of Nairobi, 31st October 2015. Moving slowly and didn’t fly off on close approach
This is a Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper in the family Pyrgomorphidae, and we want to compliment you on the wonderful lateral view of your image. Based on this image from Beetles of Africa, we believe it is Dictyophorus spumans, the Koppie Foam Grasshopper, though many images online of the species are more colorful.
Letter 38 – Koppie Foam Grasshopper from South Africa
Location: Natal Midlands in South Africa
February 20, 2011 5:58 am
We were travelling in the Natal Midlands of South Africa when I stumbled across this very colourful mean looking grasshopper. He was incidentally only a meter away from a Koppies Foam Grasshopper. Can you identify him?
We believe your specimen is a Koppie Foam Grasshopper, Dictyophorus spumans, or at least a closely related species of Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper in the same family, Pyrgomorphidae. Many times there is variability between individuals of the same species. The warning coloration or aposematic coloration that is evident in your photo is designed to warn predators that this Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper should not be eaten.
Letter 39 – Koppie Foam Grasshopper from South Africa
Subject: Please identify this grasshopper.
Location: Simonstown, Cape Town
December 23, 2012 4:41 am
I came across this bug (what I think is a grasshopper of some sorts), Along Simonstown coastline. It was just sitting in the shade on one of the boulders. I took the photo with my cell phone and it made no attempt to flee even though I came pretty close to it. Is it a juvenile of some locust species?
This is a Koppie Foam Grasshopper, Dictyophorus spumans, and it has aposomatic or warning coloration to indicate it is poisonous or foul tasting because it feeds on milkweed. Grasshoppers in the family Pyrgomorphidae are called Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers or Gaudy Grasshoppers.
Letter 40 – Koppie Foam Grasshopper from Swaziland
Location: mountains of Swaziland, southern African
February 17, 2013 6:50 am
I have identified this as a foam grasshopper, genus Pyrgomorphidae, but not been able to narrow it down further.
Can you help?
Signature: Barbara R.
Pyrgomorphidae is a family, not a genus. This is either a Koppie Foam Grasshopper, Dictyophorus spumans, or a very closely related species. Koppie Foam Grasshoppers are in the family Pyrgomorphidae that contains the Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers, a group so named as they feed on milkweed and they are able to retain the toxins in their own bodies as defense mechanisms against predators. The PHotographs from South Africa website has some images that are a visual match to your individual, but they are only identified to the family level. The same family identification applies to this image on FlickR.
Letter 41 – Koppie Foam Grasshopper from Mpumalanga
Subject: identification assistance
Location: wakkerstroom Mpumalanga
February 23, 2017 12:05 pm
Please could you assist with the I’d of this specimen
Signature: Kristi Garland
This is a Milkweed Grasshopper in the family Pyrgomorphidae. More specifically, we believe it is a Koppie Foam Grasshopper, Dictyophorus spumans, which is pictured on iSpot. Because they feed on milkweed and they are able to absorb and retain toxic compounds from the plant, members of this family are called Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers and they sport aposomatic or warning coloration to protect them from predators.
Thank you so much Daniel! You are a super star!
Letter 42 – Mating Grasshoppers from Zimbabwe
Subject: Mating bugs?
Geographic location of the bug: Goromondzi, nr Harare, Zimbabwe
Time: 08:03 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Are these two bugs a male and female mating? The smaller one on the back looked similar to a grasshopper. Found out in the bush. The larger one appeared to struggle to move with the other on its back.
How you want your letter signed: P Mcleod
Dear P Mcleod,
These are indeed Grasshoppers, and it is not unusual for the female to be significantly larger than the male in many species of Grasshoppers which is obvious during mating. We believe your individuals are in the family Pyrgomorphidae. We will attempt to identify the species.
Letter 43 – Mating Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers
Subject: Toxic milkweed cricket or not?
Geographic location of the bug: KwaZulu Natal South Africa
Time: 12:47 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Confirmation it’s a Toxic milkweed cricket and is it a female (big one) and two males (smaller ones)
How you want your letter signed: Bill
Letter 44 – Mating Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers from South Africa
Subject: Beautiful grasshopper/locust
Geographic location of the bug: Maropeng, Cradle of Humankind Visitor Centre
Time: 03:27 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Hi Bugman,
We have just returned to the UK from a fabulous holiday in South Africa, during which we saw the locust/grasshoppers shown in the attached photos. Could you identify it please. We were outside the lower exit of the Cradle of Humankind at Maropeng at about 15:30 on 22 October 2018. It was warm (~32C) and dry. Thank you.
How you want your letter signed: David Gittens
These are mating Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers in the family Pyrgomorphidae, probably Phymateus leprosus based on this iSpot image. The colors are variable, but generally they are aposomatic, meaning they are warning colors, a survival strategy employed by many insects that feed on milkweed.
Letter 45 – Mating Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers from South Africa
Subject: ID of Locust?
Location: South Africa, Entabeni reserve, Limpopo
February 9, 2016 12:31 pm
Hi took these photos in South Africa February 2015 on the Entabeni reserve, Limpopo region but cannot find a name for them, can you help please.
We had to look through numerous images of Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers or Foam Grasshoppers from the family Pyrgomorphidae on iSpot before we found an image that appears to be the same species you encountered, however it is only identified as being a member of the family. Bright aposomatic warning colors and patterns are characteristic of this family. We found a similarly colored individual pictured on Midlands Conservancies Forum. It is possible that this is a highly variable species and not all individuals have striped antennae and abdomens, or even the same color combination.
Letter 46 – Mating Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers from South Africa
Subject: ID of Grashopper from South Africa
Location: Mountains West og Krüger NP, SA
August 5, 2017 1:08 am
I travel the World for birding but are very hooked on insects as well and I encounter many weird bugs. This one is from an isolated strip of montane forest in South Africa. Looks interesting!
Hope You can help me on the ID
Ole Zoltan Göller, Denmark
Signature: Ole Zoltan Göller
These are mating Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers in the family Pyrgomorphidae, and many individuals have bright aposomatic coloration to warn predators of their toxicity. Based on this FlickR posting, we believe your amorous pair are Phymateus (Maphyteus) leprosus.
Letter 47 – Milkweed Grasshopper: Coffee Locust from Nepal
Location: Tansen, Palpa district, Nepal
September 14, 2012 9:21 pm
I am new to this site and would like help with the little guy that I met this week (Sept 13 2012) sitting on the railing in our hospital.
This is sure an attractive Grasshopper, one of the members of the family Pyrgomorphidae, commonly called the Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers because many members of the family feed on milkweed, storing the toxic compounds from the plants in their own bodies as a defense mechanism. We believe we have correctly identified your individual as a member of the genus Aularches, perhaps Ausarches miliaris which we identified on the Siam Insect Zoo site, though it is the subspecies A. m. scabiosus. Though your individual looks very similar, including the yellow banded face, there are differences, though we cannot say for certain if these are individual differences, local variations, subspecies differences or if they are in fact different species in the same genus. The Western Ghats website calls Ausarches miliaris the Coffee Locust.
Letter 48 – Milkweed Grasshopper from South Africa
Subject: Which Grasshopper?
Location: Nelspruit [Ed. Note: South Africa]
January 16, 2013 1:39 am
Hi, can you tell me which Grasshopper this is. My thoughts were something in the line of a Milkweed Grasshopper, but I dont know if you get different Milkweed Grasshoppers?
It was about 2cm in size.
Signature: Robert Wienand
We agree that this appears to be a Milkweed Grasshopper in the family Pyrgomorphidae. It looks like an immature specimen of this unidentified species we found on iSpot. Here is another individual, also on iSpot. We are having trouble matching your individuals markings and striped antennae with a definite species identification.
Letter 49 – Milkweed Grasshopper from Namibia
Subject: Bush Locust?
Location: Waterberg Plateau Namibia
January 3, 2015 1:31 pm
I took this picture on the Waterberg Plateau in Namibia in November of this year. It seems very similar to the Common Milkweed Grasshopper but has some differences. It was very large at least 10 cm.
Signature: Al Kirkley
You are correct that this is one of the Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers in the family Pyrgomorphidae, and though the colors on your individual are not as vivid, it looks like this Foam Grasshopper on Beetles of Africa, though that individual is not even classified within the family. This similar looking individual on FlickR is identified as Phymateus leprosus, and checking on that name produces this image on http://utaseibt.de/gras.html. It appears there are minor variations in color and intensity within the species.
Letter 50 – Milkweed Grasshopper from Tanzania
Location: East Usambara Mountains near Amani Research Station NE Tanzania
January 14, 2016 11:28 am
This “bug” I photographed in East Usambara Mountains near Amani Research Station NE Tanzania Nov 22 2015.
I guess this is a nymph.
The image no 1 and no2 is the same. My image no 2 was a “not allowed image”. I found no better way of deleting it than to add the same image again. Sorry.
This wingless Grasshopper may be immature or it may be a wingless species. Your image is overexposed, which is likely resulting in inaccurate color reproduction, but we believe it is one of the Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers in the family Pyrgomorphidae. Many members of this family are very brightly colored with aposomatic or warning colors to warn predators that they are toxic. We don’t believe we will be able to provide you with the species, but we are relatively confident the family is correct.
Thank you for your reply!
It is not bad at all to come as far as milkweed grasshopper, I think. Whether the photo is over-exposed or it is an effekt of I having lightened it a bit in Photoshop I don´t know. Since I don´t know a lot about what is important to look at in these groups and I also have heard that hairs sometimes play an important role for identification, I worked that photo. It was exposed at night using a flash from the camera and an extra torch – useful when trying to locate the creature for photographing. I enclose a photo with very little work on.
Letter 51 – Namibian Grasshopper: Roadkill
Red-headed, Red-legged, Red + Blue winged, Yellow striped bug
Mon, Feb 2, 2009 at 10:49 AM
I must begin with an apology that the bug whose identification I request is decapitated in the attached photograph but assure you that this is not a bug mug shot to be assigned to the ‘unnecessary carnage’ division. Its savage death occurred through no fault of my own and since squashing my last ant at the tender age of four, I harbour no entomophobic tendencies whatsoever. The unfortunate demise of this particular bug was marked by its collision with the front grid of a giant purple overland truck travelling at high speed across the border between Namibia and South Africa in the sweltering heat of summer. You will be pleased to know that a minute’s respectful silence was observed in memory of the roadkill bug; and I will be pleased to know its name.
Desperately Seeking sp.
The South African- Namibian border
Dear Desperately Seeking Species,
We suspect this is one of the Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers in the family Pyrgomorphidae. The family is also known as the Gaudy Grasshoppers. Those warning colors are a dead giveaway. We are thoroughly amazed at the number of submissions from Namibia we have received in recent weeks. When time permits, we may try to do a more thorough species identification.
Letter 52 – Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper from Namibia
Location: Namibia, Africa
January 2, 2011 11:58 am
Found this beautiful grasshopper in our yard. I did not see any other quite like it on your website.
We believe this is a Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper in the family Pyrgomorphidae. We have numerous examples from Africa and Australia in our archives.
Letter 53 – South African Gaudy Grasshopper
I hope you can help. I took the attached photograph of this Locust? in the Drakensberg Mountains at Cathedral Peak, South Africa, about six weeks ago. I have not been able to identify at this stage and hope you are able to assist.
This really looks like the Foaming Grasshopper, Dictyophorus spumans, a toxic species in the family Pyrgomorphidae (Gaudy Grasshoppers), but the wings look longer than we have found on online images. These grasshoppers feed on milkweed and store heart poisons called cardiac glycosides in their bodies. When threatened, the grasshoppers exude a foam containing the poisons.
Letter 54 – Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper
Subject: Australian Cricket
February 1, 2014 5:30 pm
I came across this cricket in WA, Australia in the bush a few years back.
Would like to know what is its name?
This is a Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper in the family Pyrgomorphidae, but we are uncertain of the species. At first we thought it might be a Blistered Grasshopper, Monistria pustulifera, which we have identified before, but the markings are different, especially the yellow band through the face on the Blistered Grasshopper. We speculated it was a different species in the same genus, which led us to a photo of a Mountain Spotted Grasshopper, Monistria concinna, on FlickR, and it looked very close, but when we checked the range on Csiro, it was wrong. We also found photos on Dave’s Garden, and they look different than your individual. So, we believe your Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper is in the genus Monistria, but we are not certain of the species. Csiro indicates several species found in Western Australia, but alas Csiro does not have photos of them. You might try writing to Csiro to see if they can identify the species, and if they do, please get back to us so that we can name this beautiful Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper more specifically.
Letter 55 – Bombay Locust from India
Strange looking bug!
Location: Karnataka, India
December 14, 2011 4:53 am
I am from India, and came across this interesting specimen while out on a hike. Would very much appreciate your help in identifying the species.
This positively gorgeous grasshopper has aposomatic coloration or warning coloration, a characteristic that is often found in the Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers in the family Pyrgomorphidae. Many species found in South Africa cause severe toxic reaction if they are eaten. We believe we have correctly identified it as Aularches miliaris on the Siam Insect Zoo and Museum website. The God of Insects website indicates the common name is the Northern Spotted Grasshopper.
Thanks, dear Bugman! Has anyone told you that you’re super? 🙂
Hi again Rohan,
Super is a new adjective for us. Thanks for the compliment.
Letter 56 – Usher-Hopper from Saudi Arabia
Subject: poisonous grasshopper
Location: Saudi Arabia/Madinah
April 23, 2015 11:18 am
Found this grasshopper on “Calotropis Procera” a poisonous milkweed.
I think it’s a female.
April/23/2015 4:20 P.M
We agree that this is a Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper in the family Pyrgomorphidae, and except for the yellow spots on your individual, it looks very similar to this Egyptian Grasshopper from our archives. We believe it is probably Poekilocerus bufonius based on this image of a mating pair from Jordan. It is called an Usher-Hopper on PBase. We agree it is a female because of her larger size. We apologize for missing some of your previous submissions.
Letter 57 – Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper from South Africa
could you id this guy?
I stumbled across your website, and thought if anyone could id this bug, it would be you guys. I took the shot from the top of Victoria Falls in Zambia in February of this year. Can anyone identify this grasshopper/cricket? It is about 6 inches long, and I found it near the top of Victoria Falls, Zambia. It really was an amazing creature, and didn’t seem to mind me getting so close for this macro.
We are certain this is one of the Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers in the genus Phymateus. The frontrunner is Phymateus morbillosus and we located a photo that seems to match your specimen, but other images look different. Grasshoppers in the genus Phymateus are known as Milkweed Locusts or Gaudy Grasshoppers. Because of their diet of Milkweed, they are highly toxic.
Letter 58 – Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper from South Africa
Location: Kruger Park, South Africa
February 28, 2013 7:07 am
can you help me identify this bug
This is a Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper in the family Pyrgomorphidae. It looks similar to, but different from, the Koppie Foam Grasshopper.
Letter 59 – Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper from South Africa
Subject: Phymateus leprosus?
Geographic location of the bug: Kurisa Moya – Bush Forest Reserve – Tzaneen South-Africa
Time: 05:06 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: I have seen this bug in the garden of our guesthouse of Kurisa Moya in the Woodbush Forest Reserve near Tzaneen in South Africa. It was about 15 cm long or more and looked as if it was not a real animal but was moving.
How you want your letter signed: Bert Rodenburg
Letter 60 – Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper from South Africa
Geographic location of the bug: Near Rhodes Village, Eastern Cape South Africa
Time: 06:01 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Well-camouflaged in our only indigenous tree in this area, the Ouhout, Leucosidea sericea
How you want your letter signed: Russell
We apologize for the late response. We have been without connectivity for a few days but now we are back. It is interesting that your image is of such a well camouflaged Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper, because this family is known for aposomatic or warning coloration. We are nearly positive your individual is Phymateus leprosus, and according to iNaturalist, the common name is the Leprous Milkweed Locust. Grasshoppers from this family often feed on milkweed and they are able make use of the toxic properties of milkweed which makes them unpleasant tasting or possibly toxic to some species.
Letter 61 – Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper from Kenya
Subject: Beautiful Grasshopper in Kenya
Location: Kijabe, Kenya
May 6, 2014 5:36 am
Can you identify this grasshopper? It was found in May in the mountains of Kenya (7,000 feet).
This is a Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper in the family Pyrgomorphidae, but we are having difficulty finding a species identification. We have located a matching image on FlickR that is called a Clown Grasshopper, but we don’t believe that name has any importance. That individual was found on Mount Kenya, so we suspect this might be a high altitude species. Perhaps one of our readers will have better luck today with a species identification.
Could it be the nymph of the phymateus viripedes as seen at
It looks very similar.
Thanks for what you’re doing. It makes this fun!
While we would not entirely rule out that possibility, we believe the markings on the abdomen of the individuals in the two images are quite different. Your Grasshopper has a dusting of small yellow spots over the entire body, while the example on The Smaller Majority has very different markings.
Letter 62 – Elegant Grasshopper, one of the Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers
Location: Amani Nature Reserve, Northeast Tanzania
May 18, 2011 3:25 am
The local Swahili name is Ongeda (n-gay-duh), but I have no idea what its scientific name is. Apparently they are occasionally eaten.
Our first impulse was to pose the possibility that this might be a Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper in the family Pyrgomorphidae. We are especially interested in your statement that they are consumed, which is contradictory to what we would expect. We haven’t the time to more thoroughly research this at the moment, but perhaps one of our readers will be able to locate a matching image on a credible website. We love finding beautiful photographs on FlickR, however, any identifications posted there require additional research.
Karl identifies Elegant Grasshopper
Hi Daniel and Phil:
It is indeed a Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper (also Foam Grasshopper) in the family Pyrgomorphidae. I am fairly certain that it is an Elegant Grasshopper (Zonocerus elegans), a short-winged and flightless grasshopper found throughout much of Africa south of the Sahara. They are sometimes also referred to as Rainbow Locusts. They are apparently slow and clumsy, relying primarily on their accumulated toxins for protection from predators. The toxins make them taste bad, although apparently not bad enough to make them inedible for humans. I found numerous references suggesting they are eaten in various parts of Africa. Regards. Karl
Letter 63 – Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper from South Africa
Location: North West [South Africa]
February 1, 2014 12:45 am
This bug was photographed at Dube Private Game Farm in the North West, if you can tell us what this species is called it would settle a nice little argument.
This is a Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper or Bush Locust in the family Pyrgomorphidae. It is an immature specimen, so it might be difficult to identify to the species level. It greatly resembles the immature Green Milkweed Locust, Phymateus viridipes, image on the Field Guide to Insects of South Africa. The nymphs are described as being “spotted black and yellow.” It also resembles an immature Phymateus saxosus from Madagascar that is in our archive. We believe the genus Phymateus is most likely correct, but the species is not something about which we are certain.
Letter 64 – Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper from South Africa
Location: South Africa, Limpopo
December 13, 2016 5:43 am
Good day, please assist with identification? Not sure if this is a Milkweed Locust
Signature: Locust in SA
This is a gorgeous image of a Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper in the family Pyrgomorphidae. Based on images posted to iSpot, we believe it is Phymateus baccatus. We will be postdating your submission to go live at the end of the month when we are away from the office for the holidays.
Letter 65 – Elegant Grasshoppers from Africa
Subject: Identification Request
Location: Arusha, Tanzania
January 19, 2017 7:26 pm
Here are a few interesting ‘bugs’ I photographed while living in Tanzania between 2008 and 2011. Hoping you can help me (finally) identify exactly what they are 🙂
Signature: Tom Broughton
Subject: Identification Request
Location: East Africa
January 19, 2017 7:28 pm
Here are a few interesting ‘bugs’ I photographed while living in Tanzania between 2008 and 2011. Hoping you can help me (finally) identify exactly what they are 🙂
IMG 1159 in Rwanda
IMG 1515b in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
IMG 8969 in Longido, Northern Tanzania (found dead)
Two of your images, one from Tanzania and IMG 1159 from Rwanda are Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers in the family Pyrgomorphidae. The individual from Tanzania appears to be an Elegant Grasshopper, Zonocerus elegans, based on a previous identification on our site. Based on this BioLib image, we are pretty confident IMG 1159 is the same species. We are not certain if only the males have usable wings or if both sexes come in winged and flightless forms. We will address the other four images you sent in distinct postings.
Letter 66 – Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers from South Africa
Subject: More Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper Nymphs from South Africa
Location: Riebeek-Kasteel, Western Cape, South Africa
May 3, 2017 3:25 am
More Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper Nymphs from South Africa
May 2, 2017
We saw something similar last weekend (30.4.2017), hiking Kasteelberg in Riebeek Kasteel, Western Cape. They started appearing the further we got to the rocky top of the mountain.
As you mentioned, they change colour during maturation process – we took some pictures that look exactly like the one displayed above, but much brighter in colour. Is it the same species just ‘older’ as the colour is much brighter?
We also saw big ones in a dark red & black colour.
I’d love to add pictures to get more information – please contact me so I can send them perhaps?
Thanks & Cheers
Both of your images are of Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers in the family Pyrgomorphidae. The green nymph appears to be Phymateus leprosus which we have featured on our site in the past. Based on this iSpot image, the adult is also Phymateus leprosus. This iSpot image provides verification that the nymph is the same species. Browsing through all the species images on iSpot indicates there is some color variation in the adults and possibly the nymphs as well.
Letter 67 – Toxic Milkweed Locust from South Africa
Subject: Bug identification
Location: South Africa
April 12, 2015 10:09 am
I found this bug in our room when visiting Kariega safari in South Africa in January. Any idea of what species?
Signature: Johan Ekener
This is a Toxic Milkweed Locust in the genus Phymateus, and we cannot be certain of the exact species identification because many members of the genus look similar and there is great individual variation within the species as well. Our best guess is Phymateus morbillosus which believe we have correctly identified in the past. Though a redder color variation seems to be more common, we did locate similar looking individuals on Alamy and on iSpot.
Many thanks for your swift response to my request. I will read more about these bugs; found it quite amazing compared to what we have here in Sweden 🙂
Letter 68 – Immature Elegant Grasshoppers from Swaziland
Location: Swaziland, Africa
January 21, 2012 1:35 pm
I found this (but many other too…) grasshopper in Swaziland, while visiting the Hlane Park.
It looks like an Elegant Grasshopper, but the colours are slightly different.
Could you help me in identify it?
Thanks and all the best,
We do not believe this is an Elegant Grasshopper, but none of our initial research has turned up an identification. We are posting your photo as unidentified in the hopes we will be able to provide something more specific at a later date.
maybe it’s a juvenile… it didn’t seem to be rare: some days before I found a whole branch of a tree full with them (I have pics, if you’re interested)
Anyways, let’s keep searching!
All the best,
Hi Again Luigi,
We are inclined to think it is different species. Send more photos if you have time.
Interestingly, when we web searched the common name Elegant Grasshopper and Africa instead of the scientific name Zonocerus elegans, we quickly found this online pdf of Pests of Field Crops in Southern Africathat pictures the immature Elegant Grasshopper, and it is a perfect match to your photos. It seems your original hunch was correct after all. It seems it will feed on a large variety of cultivated crops including cotton, soy beans and fruit trees. Thanks for sending your additional photos.
Letter 69 – Usher Hopper from Saudi Arabia
Subject: Identify this beetle
Geographic location of the bug: Riyadh Saudi Arabia
Time: 11:05 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Hi, cane across this beetle and looking to ID it
It was around the length of an iPhone 5 if that helps
How you want your letter signed: Email
This is not a beetle. It is a Grasshopper in the family Pyrgomorphidae, and we have identified a previously submitted individual as an Usher Hopper, Poekilocerus bufonius. According to TrekNature: “The distribution ranges from Syria to Egypt and NW Saudi Arabia. … The genus Poekilocerus belongs to the family of highly colorful species that can be found in tropical regions around the world. This animal announced its non-patability by a yellowish secretion. Its preferred food are Milkweed plants, and the animal seems to harbour some of the bitter ingredients of the plants in its hemolymph.”
Letter 70 – Ak Grasshopper from India
Subject: Bug Idetification
Location: Chennai, India
May 10, 2015 9:18 pm
Hello again, bugman 🙂
Found this bug next to a shore in ECR, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.
I found many look alike bugs which were very colourful.
Can you help me figure out the bug’s name again ?
Signature: Nithin Daniel Mathew
This beautiful Grasshopper is in the family Pyrgomorphidae, and we found this matching image on Tumblr. In 2009, we identified it as Poekilocerus pictus, commonly called the Ak Grasshopper or Painted Grasshopper, a name we verified on National Geographic where it states: ““Ak Grasshopper, is one of the most colorful grasshoppers of India. The nymphs display spots of varied colours from yellow, orange to blue and green. The adults show yellow and blue striped on head and thorax, a bright red abdomen, green-yellow forewings and red hind wings which are seen only in flight. The adults grow to about 60mm and are capable of good flight. The food is Giant Milkweed Plant.The eggs are laid in “pods” (each pod contains 70 – 200 eggs) during the monsoon months.”
Letter 71 – Ak Grasshopper from India
Subject: Ak Grasshopper
Location: Chennai , India
October 19, 2015 9:07 pm
I have found this Ak Grasshopper in Chennai (India) coast. Very beautiful and coloured. I was wondering whether these colours are for camouflage or natural?.
Also I heard that we cannot spot them after September. This photo was taken on 17th Oct 2015.
Can I have more details
Signature: AK Grasshopper
The Ak Grasshopper is a Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper in the family Pyrgomorphidae, and we suspect the coloration is aposomatic or warning coloration to inform predators that it is a toxic species.
Letter 72 – Ak Grasshopper from India
Subject: PAINTED GRASSHOPPER
Geographic location of the bug: Jharkhand, Jamshedpur. INDIA
Time: 05:50 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Today I see this painted grasshoppers near Dimna lake at Jamshedpur, India.
How you want your letter signed: By email mail
The Ak Grasshopper from India, Poekilocerus pictus, is sometimes called a Painted Grasshopper.