Two-Striped Grasshopper

2012 August 8

Sam and I found this grasshopper on the foundation of our house on September 6, 2010.

I’ve had a picture of this species on this site before; it’s a Two-Striped Grasshopper, Melanoplus bivittatus. This time we can see the two white stripes that give it its name. The stripes start behind each eye, run more or less parallel down the back, and then merge together about halfway down the length of the wings.

They have kind of round heads.

The underside of a grasshopper thorax has kind of a 3-d puzzle sort of appearance. The chest armor almost looks like interlocking puzzle pieces.

Sam was holding it for the underside pictures, and it wasn’t happy about it. Which is why it was spitting that foul-tasting “tobacco juice” all over the place.

These are one of the species of “spur-throated grasshoppers”, subfamily Melanoplinae, which have a projection on their throats that can be used to distinguish them from other kinds of grasshoppers.

While this species can become very numerous and form destructive swarms in some parts of the country, they don’t ever seem to do that here[1]. I suspect it has something to do with our climate. Grasshoppers tend to be warm-temperature insects, and it may be that our cool temperatures keep them from being as prolific as they could be.

[1] There seem to be characteristic disasters for just about every place on earth. Some places get earthquakes, or volcanoes, or hurricanes, or locust plagues, or tornados, or wildfires, or droughts, or landslides, or tsunamis, or what-have-you. Here in the Keeweenaw Peninsula, we don’t really get any of those[2] – our special “disaster” is a long winter with very heavy snow, which is a manageable, gentle sort of disaster that one can plan for and kind of shrug off without fatalities. I guess that every place has some downside – if there is anyplace accessible[3] that has a pleasant shirtsleeve environment where none of the above disasters happen, then it seems like the population just goes up until it is people that are the problem, with general overcrowding if nothing else. So when looking for a place to live, it’s not so much “where’s the perfect place?”, but rather “pick your poison!”

[2] We’re particularly lucky on the lack of geology-based disasters – there hasn’t been an earthquake or volcano on our part of the Canadian Shield for probably close on to a billion years. This geological stability was actually a plot point in the classic SF novel “When Worlds Collide”. They had to pick the most geologically stable place in North America for the base to build and launch the evacuation rocket. This was because the giant planet Bronson Alpha was due to have a near-miss on Earth, then whip around the Sun and smack into it squarely on the other side of its orbit several months later. So they wanted to minimize the chance that an earthquake caused by Bronson Alpha’s gravity on the first pass would wreck everything before they could finish the rocket. The site selected was “The high ground between Lake Michigan and Lake Superior”. Which is pretty much right here.

[3] I suppose there are some places that are actually pretty nice, with low population and no disasters, but that are just so remote that the population hasn’t gone up yet. But remoteness itself is kind of a problem. Plus, if it is really that nice otherwise, the low population thing probably won’t last.

One Response
  1. August 9, 2012

    Cool! Racing stripes!

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