Readers’ wildlife photos

Reader/biologist Jacques Hausser from Switzerland sends us another batch of lovely orthopterans (see here and here for parts I and II). Jacques’s notes are indented:

The third group of Orthopterans, the grasshoppers sensu stricto (suborder Caelifera) can be easily told apart from the Ensifera (bushcrickets/katydids and crickets) by their rather short and sturdy antennae and by the lack of a long ovipositor, replaced by four short chisels or burins allowing the female to bore a hole in the substrate to lay her eggs (Caelifera means “chisel bearer”). Their stridulatory and auditory equipment is also different: they stridulate by rubbing their hind legs against the elytrae, and their ears are located in the first abdominal segment. Grasshoppers are morphologically very homogenous (with exceptions!), and the coloration of most species is highly variable. The biblical locusts belong to this group.
Stenobothrus lineatus, the stripe-winged grasshopper, female. One can discern the dark eardrum just under the wing, to the right of the last green plate.
Mecostethus parapleurus, the leek grasshopper, male. This species likes reeds and other tall grasses in marshes and wet meadows. I don’t know what kind of relationship it has with leeks…
Chorthippus brunneus female, the common field grasshopper. It’s not obvious from this picture, but, like other mostly brown species, it prefers dry meadows with sparse vegetation.
Sphingonotus caerulans, the slender blue-winged grasshopper, and a well camouflaged one. The rear wings, hidden at rest, are pale blue (other related species have red hindwings), which makes it very visible in flight – but it instantly disappears when landing, fooling a would-be predator. Each time it moults, this spendid species can adapt its color to the environment – but it cannot change it between moults. It belongs to the subfamily of Locustinae together with the famous migratory locust.
Gomphocerippus rufus male, the rufous grasshopper, is easily recognizable by its black and white spatulate antennae. I call it the grasshoppers’ Pluto.
Same species, pairing. In grasshoppers the female is usually larger than the male.
Chrysochraon dispar, the large gold grasshopper. Like this one, females of several species are almost wingless, but the males keep fully developped wings, even if they are too short to fly—they need them to sing!
Another solution: they give up stridulating. Here is Miramella alpina, the green mountain grasshopper, a mountain species that replaces stridulation with grinding of the mandibles.
Acrida ungarica, the cone-headed grasshopper, a Mediterranean and East-European species. This is what happens to your head when the natural selection has decided that you should look like a bunch of twigs.

13 Comments

  1. busterggi
    Posted March 9, 2018 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    I thought the Acrida were from France.

    • Jacques Hausser
      Posted March 12, 2018 at 6:24 am | Permalink

      Sorry I was away and without Wifi when it was posted, but I must remember you that a nice part of France is in the Mediterranean area ;-).

  2. Posted March 9, 2018 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Amazing cone-head.

  3. Debbie Coplan
    Posted March 9, 2018 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    Lovely photos and explanations…
    Thank you!

  4. Posted March 9, 2018 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    I’m lovin’ it! Grasshoppers are surprisingly interesting, and many of these here are especially intriging. Hard to photograph, though since they tend of jump..
    Excellent pictures and commentary.

  5. Christopher
    Posted March 9, 2018 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing. All are lovely photos but S. caerulans is particularly beautiful. I know there are somewhat similar cryptic species around me, but I don’t see them until they fly off, then can’t find them again when they land. Even if I do see them, I can’t get close enough to get such a nice picture.

  6. Posted March 9, 2018 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Remarkable diversity, particularly the last one.

  7. Diane G.
    Posted March 9, 2018 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Fascinating!

    FWIW, “grasshopper burins” stumps Google. (I wanted to see those chisels!) 😉

  8. Posted March 9, 2018 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Sphingonotus caerulans! very cool, great shots, thanks very much.

  9. Andrea Kenner
    Posted March 9, 2018 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    I also think I see some snails in that last photo.

  10. Mark R.
    Posted March 9, 2018 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    I had no idea how many species of Orthopterans were in your neck of the woods. Great series of photos and commentary. Thanks.

  11. Posted March 9, 2018 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    Fascinating. That last one looks like a bunch of dried grass to me.


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