Sunday, September 12, 2010

Nature Guide: Differential Grasshopper

It's always fun when an animal or insect visits the garden and is bold enough to stay for a while. One of the beastly hot days of summer brought a striking grasshopper that kept me company while I watered. Our Nature Guide Jon Latimer gives us a few facts about this beautiful, feisty insect.

The Differential Grasshopper, Melanoplus differentialis, can be easily identified by the black chevrons on its hind legs. Although this grasshopper is commonly found on the Great Plains, they are seen less often in our area.

Adult Differential Grasshoppers usually crawl or hop, but they are also good fliers. When the temperature rises above 86°, they try to cool off by seeking shade on plants or by taking to the air. On hot days airplane pilots have reported seeing grasshoppers flying as high as 1,400 feet above the ground. In their home territory, Differential Grasshoppers are considered pests. They eat crops such as corn, alfalfa and cotton, and broad-leafed flowering plants such as sunflowers.