Northern Marbled Grasshopper

2013 June 26

Sam caught this grasshopper on July 27, 2012, in the garden on the south side of the house. It was pretty well camouflaged, looking like a bit of miscellaneous wood debris, or maybe a lump of dirt. I don’t really know how she even spotted it. Sharp eyes, I guess.

I unfortunately made a mistake on the photographing. I didn’t take pictures of the underside, or spread out the wings to photograph the hindwings[1]. So, my identification is a bit tentative, because the pictures don’t show some key ID features. But, anyway, I think the best match is one of the Spharagemon species. And given the part of the country where it was found, it was most likely the Northern Marbled Grasshopper, Spharagemon marmorata marmorata. Incidentally, the double “marmorata” isn’t a typo; this is a particular subspecies of Spharagemon marmorata.

And, from the appearance of the tip of the abdomen, I think it’s a female.

[1] And I couldn’t go back to re-photograph it, because immediately after I took these pictures, Rosie ate it. No, not raw. Both of the girls like grasshoppers fried in butter. To cook grasshoppers, first you pull off the head (which pulls out the portion that contains the foul-tasting “tobacco juice”), and remove the jumping legs (which have spines that can get stuck in your throat). Then you fry it in a little dab of butter until it turns lobster-red. Then you eat it. Easy! Sam says they taste kind of like a bit of shrimp on a cracker (the “cracker” part is the wings). Although, you want to stick with the well-camouflaged species. A few of the big, boldly-colored grasshoppers (particularly the “Lubber” grasshoppers) are toxic. As a general rule, if an insect is well-camouflaged and hard to catch, then it is probably safe to eat. But if it is brightly colored, easy to see, and easy to catch, then it probably has chemical defenses that make it foul-tasting or toxic, and you don’t want to eat it (and may not even want to risk touching it).

One Response
  1. June 26, 2013

    The red legs contrasting against the camouflage of the rest of the body it rather jarring. It almost seems accidental, doesn’t it?

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