Late Grasshopper

2016 July 27

That’s “late” as in something I photographed very late in the season (November 8, 2015), not “late” as in “deceased”. It was in fact very much alive, although missing a leg, and therefore more inclined to sit still for photographs than one would expect for a grasshopper.


It was either laying eggs right up until the bitter end of the winter, or was actually going to overwinter as an adult. And this was the bitter end. This was a brief warm spell after we had already had a few solid frosts good enough to kill most non-hibernating insects and knock back the plants.


After going through “Orthoptera of Michigan”, I think this looks like a Marsh Meadow Grasshopper, Chorthippus curtipennis. The book gives the normal range of dates where you are likely to find adults of each species, and this is pretty much the only one where the last date is into November (although it only lists it up to November 2, so I found this a good week later than one would expect).


The black knees are a pretty good ID feature for these grasshoppers, as is the shape of the head, the wing coloration, and the yellow underbody.


These are possibly the most widely-distributed grasshoppers in North America, ranging north to most of Canada and Alaska, and south to about the Mason-Dixon Line. The males make a soft buzzing noise by rubbing their wings together, I think these are probably the ones that I hear through late summer and most of the autumn.

So anyway, I was really surprised to see this last November, and it just goes to show that even when you might think there will be no insects around, they are likely to be there after all.

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