Monday, May 20, 2013

Chortophaga Viridifasciata

What is it?  Want to know more?  There is more below the break.
 It's a green striped grasshopper!

I'm pretty sure this one is male

I found this little guy hopping around in my yard about two weeks ago, right before the grass was going to be sprayed with poison for weed control.  He was small, wingless and had not a clue about what was going to happen to him if he didn't get out of the grass.  There were a bunch of other little grasshopper nymphs just like this one hopping around over on the other side of the house by the garden and safely out of the way (I figure they must have come out of hibernation, seeing as it was the first really warm day of the year), but this one somehow wound up in the back by the patio.  Being a nice (sort of) person I picked him up and put him in the tank that I used to keep hermit crabs in.

Why not I thought, it would be interesting to find out what a grasshopper does when he thinks no one is watching.  What I observed was rather unexpected.  You see there are always many grasshoppers around my house, especially in the the mid to late summer when the weather tends to be a bit drier, but I never really gave them much thought.  They were just grasshoppers, who most of the time contented them selves munching grass, occasionally my garden and sometimes vomiting up brown slime when disturbed (this one didn't do that, thank goodness).  In the past I even had some rather unpleasant experiences with the creatures- the aforementioned vomiting and then having about a dozen land all over me after I kicked a clump of grass covered in grasshoppers just to see what would happen.  I thought I was so clever until was running around flailing and screaming.  This hopper was peaceful little critter, who spent most of his time with me blending into a stick a I provided him with, or hanging upside down from the top of his tank.  After two days in captivity he molted and grew into the grasshopper you see in the photos.  It was a lot like watching a butterfly hatch from its chrysalis, in that the old exoskeleton just kind of popped open and an adult grasshopper wriggled out head first with crumpled wings that only moments before had been somehow obscured.  It was completely unexpected and something that I've never witnessed before.  I've known for years that insects, spiders and crabs molt as a means of growing but never had the chance to see.

Mr. Grasshopper or Hoppy

The other funny thing I noticed was how he ate the grass I brought him.  Instead of just nibbled pieces out of each blade like I've seen grasshoppers do before, he would chew the grass in half and eat starting at the end and keep eating until he reached the tip of the blade.  Later I came to find out that's what this species of grasshopper does, it chews through a blade of grass then holds it with its front most pair of legs and eats it the way a person eats a candy bar.  Again, that was something I never expected.  When I let Hoppy go this past Sunday he flew away and landed somewhere in the tall grass around the yard, I hope he's happy now.  Also, I don't think I'll be looking at grasshoppers the same way that I used to.

Now some of you may be wondering why this is called a green striped grasshopper when this one is grey/brown?  The answer is the female grasshopper is green or has green markings while the the males are usually grey or brown or a combination of the two with maybe just a little bit of green.  But that isn't always the case, sometimes the females can be brownish or even pink in some rare cases and that is why I'm not entirely sure if this hopper is really male or female, I've been assuming it's male because there was no green.

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