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Now you see ‘em …

April 10, 2013

When walking anywhere on our property in summer we are accompanied by grasshoppers that suddenly appear, fly out in front, maybe flash a bit of colour, and then just as quickly, they disappear. Grasshoppers are of the same order as crickets and katydids, Orthoptera (from the Greek, ortho meaning straight and ptera meaning wing). One of the distinguishing features among them is that grasshoppers generally have antennae that are shorter than their bodies, and therefore have fewer segments in them than the others. (But this is not a rule…)

Bark-mimicking Grasshopper

Bark-mimicking Grasshopper

Most grasshoppers are omnivorous. This means they eat plant matter, but will also dine on dead animals and catch insects. In turn they are the food source for reptiles, birds, mice and other insects. In many countries grasshoppers are a high-protein part of the human diet. Grasshoppers are eaten raw or boiled, dried, fried, with soy-sauce: you name it.

Gumleaf Grasshopper

Gumleaf Grasshopper

The main defence mechanism of the grasshopper is to use camouflage to hide from predators. Pictured (above) is the Bark-mimicking Grasshopper (Coryphistes ruricola), which even at close range is difficult to distinguish from its surroundings. This Gumleaf Grasshopper (Goniaea australasiae) (right) has been photographed away from its preferred dried gumleaf backdrop, and therefore is easily seen.

Tempting as this juicy, crunchy little morsel looked, I had a vegemite sandwich for lunch instead.

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