Milkweed Grasshopper from South Africa

What’s this?
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.
Nelspruit, Mpumalanga

Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper
Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper

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.

5 thoughts on “Milkweed Grasshopper from South Africa”

  1. There is a initiation mask made by the Chokwe and related peoples of Angola which is said to represent this grass hopper. It is called Chikunza, Cikunza, or Kikunza. It is characterized by a tall conical headdress with attached tassel. The conical body is colorfully painted (in earth tones) with rings, the face has round eyes and mouth, and there are even spots all around the face.

  2. This i believe is actually the Nymph (juvenile ) of the species, i had collected 1 for a biology practical and believe to have found a nest of these at westville campus, the adult gets larger wings , and ability to fly and loses most of its vibrant colour.


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