Wednesday, 6 August 2014
Master Po to young Caine; Do you hear the grasshopper that is at your feet?
Young Caine; old man, how is it that you hear these things?
Master Po; young man, how is it that you do not?
Quote from the 1970’s cult t.v. series Kung Fu (I’m showing my age now!)
Not only have I been listening to the grasshoppers I decided to photograph a few too.
Grasshoppers belong to the order Orthoptera (grasshoppers and crickets)
There are around 10 different species of grasshopper found in the UK. Some can be found in abundance in all areas while others only in localised areas around the country. Most lay their eggs directly into the soil and when hatched the resulting nymphs are small versions of the adult.
These nymphs will grow through four (or more) ‘moulting’ stages before becoming adults. It is during these stages that, for the species that have them, the wings will develop.
There are many colour and pattern variations among grasshopper species varying from green/brown through to pink/purple.
Common Field Grasshopper (chorthippus brunneus) This is the UK’s commonest grasshopper and is found in dry, thin grassland from June to December. It is noticeably hairy below the thorax and is also a good flier. colours range from brown to orange and purple it can also be striped or mottled.
An early nymph…no wings have developed yet.
A few days after the final moult the abdomen develops an orange tip.
Masters of disguise!
Lesser Marsh Grasshopper (chorthippus albomarginatus) Mostly restricted to southern parts of the UK but is slowly expanding it’s range northwards. Found, from July to October, in many grassy habitats..dry, damp marshy, coastal dunes and salt marsh. Only the females display a white line along the wing and are also bigger than the males. The colour is mostly brown/straw but is variable and both sexes can range from brown to green.
Note the damaged/deformed wing.
My camera bag is a good place to pose for a portrait!
Meadow Grasshopper (chorthippus parallelus) Found in moist well vegetated grassland from June to September. The female is larger than the male and both sexes are flightless although the female has very small wings and the male’s wings extend almost to the tip of the abdomen. Again the colour varies through green, brown, purple/red to pink but green is the more common colour. Some populations can show high numbers of the pink form.
Beautiful in pink?
Stripe-winged Grasshopper (sienobothrus lineatus) Mostly found, between July and October in the south of the UK, below a line drawn from The Wash to The Severn Estuary, in marsh and chalk grassland. Colour ranges from green to brown with some orange/red on the abdomen. Both sexes are winged.
As you would imagine photographing something small that spends most of it’s life buried in the depths of the grass, and also has the annoying habit of disappearing at a great rate on knots just as you manage to get it into focus, is not an easy task? So I decided to give it a go (rolling/crawling around in the grass seems to be my forte?) It was fun but I did encounter a few pitfalls notably…kneeling in/on thistles, brambles, stones, ants nests and a rather annoyed and angry bumblebee…being scratched and poked in the eyes by grass and twigs…and being bitten and stung by all manner of bugs that had decided a big meal had just arrived at their doorstep!
Then there were the looks I got from the passers by, they had no idea what they were missing!…but it was all good fun and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
All images were taken with a Canon 100mm Macro f2.8 L IS USM lens fitted to my Canon 50D and mounted onto a sturdy support….ME!
As usual all ID’s are derived from my library of books and my limited knowledge and I would welcome your input if you think I’ve got anything wrong.