You be afraid of Spiders if you want but for me it has got to be Grasshoppers.
Because they are so difficult to identify. All of the animals in this post are the same species, a Woodland Grasshopper, Omocestus rufipes. This is one of the easier species to identify.
This is a Woodland Grasshopper…
and this is another Woodland Grasshopper.
Admittedly those pictures are first a male and then a female but Grasshoppers of the same species don’t seem to feel any obligation to look the like each other. They very often look like something else.
This next female Woodland was wrongly identified for me by a good authority as a Common Green.
This picture does look very much like a Common Green but on it’s own it doesn’t show enough detail to make a positive identification, fortunately I had a set.
If you do feel like messing with some of these very dangerous animals (they can cause frustration) here are a few pointers as to what to look for.
What makes it a Woodland Grasshopper?
Colour isn’t a great help. Males are usually beige above as in my first picture and females are green or brown, that doesn’t leave much. If you find a blue one then it isn’t a Woodland.
Keels: These are the edges of the pronotum (The saddle like structure behind the head) and are sometimes called “pronotal side-keels”. They are a feature used to aid with grasshopper identification.
The Woodland Grasshopper has quite sharply angled keels. (so does the Common Green)
Then there are the palps. These are the mouth parts that hang down beside the jaws and are used to grasp food. They are white in this next picture (sorry about the quality)
You should try to get a picture of the palps if you want to get an identification. The woodland Grasshopper has white tipped palps but then the Common Green can have those as well.
This is the clincher for our Woodland versus Common Green identification. The Common Green doesn’t have any red on the abdomen.
Why not just look at the abdomen first? Quite a few other species do have red abdomens.
Identification comes down to comparing several different characteristics and not the obvious ones either, if this had a hairy thorax it would be something different.
My advice is don’t play cards with Grasshoppers, they are very tricky and if you want to get a positive identification try and get more than one picture. You have to try and get as many angles as you can.
11 thoughts on “Why I am scared of Grasshoppers”
Looks like I’ll have to leave the identifications to the experts and just stick with my “Yellow Grasshopper” or “Green Grasshopper” identification system. 🙂 Great shots and information!
You have put into words they way I feel about trying to identify most insects – and flowers – and birds!
I love grasshoppers and these are truly beautiful. I like their green cloaks and their royal appearance. You are a naturalist and names and species are of the utmost importance to you. I would just call the grasshoppers Jack, Jill, Mabel and Lucy. I think the grasshoppers would be fine with that, but, of course, I don’t know that for for sure:) They aren’t really what we call them anyway. We just made up those words/names to make it easy for us to sort and classify them. They never told us their real names and their real names are the only ones that actually count. I’m not sure anyone ever asked them, with the language barrier and all. If they cared enough, I wonder what they would call us. I bet it wouldn’t be anything good:/ We make everything up and then pretend that what we make up is real. It’s not…it’s just pretend:) But humans like to measure, sort and classify so the things we make up allow us to do that. It’s the only way we humans can communicate and know when things are going extinct, taking over or holding their own…that’s a good thing. As always, your photographs are amazing and you always teach me so very much. Thank you.
At least you have some sort of ID key. Here we don’t have anything. Nobody studies Orthoptera so there’s a gap in the market if you are interested. If the adults are tricky, try the nymphs!!!!!!!
At least the blighters keep still for you to photograph them!
Nice hopper pics. Especially as there are no Woodland Grasshoppers around my neck of the woods.
As always, a really interesting blog post. Have you had any locusts down there yet? I saw one on the Isles of Scilly nearly thirty years ago, and they are BIG!
I have similar problems with bats (some species sound very similar through a heterodyne bat detector, and live in the same sorts of habitats, and fly in a similar sort of pattern, plus a species’ calls sound different depending on what habitat they’re in)! It’s driving me mad!
You should see some of the epic sized hoppers here in Costa Rica. I love them. But now crickets…..ewww. As long as they stay outside nd serenade, I’m good. I once had an invasion of them while living near the desert in Texas. They were scary.. You have beautiful photos here.
Grasshoppers make me nervous. Once when I was a child I was in a field obliously happy when all of a sudden everything went dark as a swarm of locusts descended. They were everywhere: in my hair, under my clothes. I couldn’t even scream for fear of them getting in my mouth. My dad rescused me. Just picked me up and took me to some shelter. Now that some years have passed I can admire the beauty of an individual grasshopper but they still kind of freak me out.
Bugs in general freak me out. My dad put a dead locust on my shoulder once and my screams could be heard in the next county!