The BugLady always enjoys photographing these large, handsome grasshoppers as they ricochet off the prairie plants in late summer. She has danced around them in several episodes – in a generalized discussion of their genus, Melanoplus and as eye-candy in several summer insect picture collections – but they deserve their own biography.
Back in the summer of 2009, the BugLady found a spectacular grasshopper in the UWM Field Station prairie. It was a Short-winged Bunchgrass Locust/Grasshopper, also known as the Short-winged Toothpick Grasshopper, and she issued a special Bonus Bug to celebrate it. This is a revision of that post, with some new information.
These days the BugLady’s walks are punctuated by the small “pop” of grasshoppers taking off and landing, and by the whir of their wings. Grasshoppers and bumblebees seem to dominate the landscape in the weeks leading up to official autumn.
With apologies to Olde English Folk Songs everywhere, here is the Second Annual Twelve Bugs of Christmas, featuring a Baker’s Dozen that were photographed this year but that did/will not appear in BOTWs. These pictures are a tribute to the joy of stumbling into the right place at the right time.
Obscure Grouse Locust, adults and nymphs alike, nibble on diatoms and algae that they find at the water’s edge (aquatic vegetation makes up the majority of the food eaten by some riparian Grouse Locust species), on algae that they find growing on dirt, on some molds, and on lichens, mosses, and newly-sprouted grasses.
Short-horned Grasshoppers are found on poor soils, sand prairies, weedy roadsides and forest edges in a range that stretches through the Great Plains and southern Canada from north Texas to Idaho, east through the Great Lakes states and New England. Their populations tend to be “local”—found in small pockets of large areas—and both their numbers and their range may be increasing with recent droughts.