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The Diligent Differential Grasshopper (Melanoplus differentialis) [Nov. 10th, 2012|09:42 pm]
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[Current Mood |awake]

To turn the old story of The Ant and the Grasshopper around, here's a grasshopper diligently preparing for the next season by digging a hole in the ground and laying eggs in it.   Hard to be more future-planning-minded  than that.  I was coming back from a bike ride on the land--and the wind was so blustery in my face that I got off in the north horse lot to walk the bike into the back yard instead of riding it.   Hence, I saw this grasshopper before riding right over her as she drilled into the ground right in the gateway.  M. differentialis is common in this area (along with other grasshopper species) and most easily known by the chevrons on the hind legs.   


In the rear view, you can see a little more how the abdomen is extended into the hole she's dug with her ovipositor.   This is the grasshopper that I didn't run over with the bike, because the wind was blowing so hard I was exhausted coming up the rise and got off to walk it into the yard. 


This species is one of the subfamily  Melanoplinae, or "spur-throated grasshoppers."  I'd never been able to see the spur on the throat before, but caught it in the lateral images this time.  Here's a (slightly blurry, as I was focused on the other end of Ms. Grasshopper) photo with an arrow pointing to it.



[User Picture]From: EClaireMcLean
2012-11-11 03:54 am (UTC)
I hope most of her babies hop into the pond and feed the fish. A few grasshoppers are fine, but I hate hearing a miasma of them eating grass ahead of my cows.
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From: (Anonymous)
2012-11-11 09:10 am (UTC)

I'm beginning to believe that we don't know nearly as much as we think

Karen here --

I took photos a few years ago (but have nowhere to post them to prove my point, let alone my identity, sadly)....

I was growing tomatoes in pots outside my window, in a place where the morning sun usually trapped enough heat for me to have to rise early each morning to feed and water the pots that would soon be exposed to the summer sun. In the rush to get them (and me) ready for the heat of day, I discovered a Preying Mantis, dramatically conjoined with her lover.

Since, as the saying goes, "fortune favors the bold," I called work to let them know that I'd be a bit late, then sat down to in the hope of capturing the inevitable "death by love." And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

More than an hour-and-a-half later, my last photo was taken as an assertively-still observed en-coitus.

At that point, I could only imagine that the internal measures that had ended their 'love dance' had been automatic upon death.

-- After all, life must go on?!?

Ever since, I've had new respect for insects. Why not eat something -- especially if it's already dead? If the continuation of a species is, as perceived by the insect in question, i.e., the raison d'être of mating, why not consume one's mate?

At such points, how can we be surprised by behaviors we can't understand?!?

And yes, still I squick at pictures of the grasshopper's ovipositer.
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From: keetara
2012-11-15 05:09 pm (UTC)

Re: I'm beginning to believe that we don't know nearly as much as we think

Not all mantis species decapitate their male partner during mating. Also, if the mating began while the female was hungry, the male may make the mating take longer in effort to avoid being decapitated. If the female wasn't hungry when mating began, the male usually isn't decapitated and and elaborate mating dance takes place beforehand.

Edited at 2012-11-15 05:10 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-11-12 04:54 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure about the wings...my insect guide says of spur-throated grasshoppers that "Many species are wingless in the adult stage" says of this genus that many species have "reduced or absent wings" as adults. I don't know enough to know if the ragged edges are the result of long wear or that's how they are when the adult form arrives. Adults of this species around here are usually highly active and zip away (hopping or flying) before I get good pictures.
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