Carolina Grasshoppers

2012 October 24

We have a lot of Carolina Grasshoppers (Dissosteira carolina), and I’ve had pictures of one before. So here are a couple more. This first one was caught alive in the yard with a net on July 11, 2010:

And this second one is from August 12, 2010. It was dead in the kids’ wading pool (a lot of grasshoppers jump into the pool and drown. They don’t swim very well). This not only meant that it would stay still for clear pictures from the side;

It also meant that I could spread out one of the wings so that we could see the characteristic black hindwings with pale trim along the edge.

These are easily our biggest local grasshoppers, and are simple to identify in flight because of the highly-visible black wings. They aren’t so easy to identify on the ground, because they are hard to see on the ground; they like to rest on bare soil where their dirty-gray coloration and excellent camouflage makes them darned near invisible. Which makes them all the scarier when you walk along the driveway, and one suddenly flushes up from near your feet with a loud CLACK CLACK CLACK noise.

6 Responses
  1. October 24, 2012

    Cool. Great shots.

    One thing that plagues (no pun intended) many wildlife species is not swimming in kiddie pools (or other similar structures), it’s GETTING OUT. The steep, super slick sides give them little to hold onto. I rescued a lizard stuck in one of those plastic rectangular bins you get batches of mixed baby lettuce in. They jump well, but this guy was pretty small, and w/4 inch vertical smooth plastic walls, they have few options.

    Good workaround is draping a towel over the lip of the pool (so it reaches the water and also reaches the ground on the other side), or putting in something (not crazy slick) that provides a ramp for wildlife to clamber out. A descent sized (stable or stabilized) stick can do the trick. =)

    You’ve probably thought about this, but it’s super easy and saves many little lives. Annnnd that concludes today public service announcement. =)

  2. October 24, 2012

    Yes, this past summer we did have a board in the water, that could have been used by grasshoppers and the like to climb out. And we didn’t see nearly as many insects in the pool as in the past (note that the pictures above are from two summers ago).

    But, we also had some leopard frog tadpoles and a couple of goldfish in the pool (the board was actually there mainly to provide the goldfish with a shady spot to hang out, and to let the tadpoles get out of the water when they became froglets). The goldfish made the whole issue kind of academic – they probably ate most of the insects that fell in the water.

  3. October 24, 2012

    Thanks for this, I have always wondered what those grasshoppers with the black and yellow wings looked like when not in flight.

  4. October 26, 2012

    In the last few weeks, I’ve seen a huge increase in grasshoppers. I’m trying to figure out why their life cycle would produce so many adults in mid-October in San Diego.

  5. October 27, 2012

    KT: I understand that grasshoppers increase in numbers when it is both warmer than average, and sunnier than average while they are growing up. This is why locust plagues are often associated with droughts. Has it been warmer and sunnier than usual around San Diego for the past several months? Many species also get migratory when they get their wings as adults, so the ones you are seeing may well have been breeding some distance away and are now moving through the area looking for food.

  6. October 27, 2012

    Yeah, we had a heat wave right before the outbreak. That must have been it. Thanks for the info!

Comments are closed.