...a Red-legged Locust (Melanoplus femur-rubrum)--also know as a Red-legged Grasshopper, cleans its antenna. I never really noticed how short a grasshopper's antenna (or "horns") were compared to the size of its body. Lang Elliott points this out in his book, "The Songs of Insects," where he mentions antenna size is a distinguishing characteristic between katydids ("long-horned" grasshoppers) and locusts ("short-horned" grasshoppers).
Spur-throated Grasshoppers do not sing. I read that fact in "The Songs of Insects," by Lang Elliott. I had always assumed locusts sang just like katydids, crickets and cicadas. Elliott clued me in...only Slant-faced Grasshoppers fiddle and sing (or stridulate). Their songs are "soft and muffled" (Elliott, 178). They fiddle by rubbing the inner surface of their hind femurs (upper leg) against the edges of their forewings. The spines you see along the tibia of the Red-legged Grasshopper are for gripping, not stridulating.
...when I arrived at the river, the skies were heavy with grey clouds and darkness was seeping in among the grasses. I didn't know if the photos would turn out. They are not great, but they are good enough to capture the grasshopper's coloring. With red legs, a yellowish underbody, and a greenish head, she's hard to miss...
...striated muscles are bound in the beautiful herringbone pattern that makes up the hind leg (femur). Those muscles fuel the incredible jump that allows grasshoppers to cover lots of space with what looks like little effort.
Note After sniffing around the Internet a bit, I found a very interesting and helpful site detailing how a grasshopper jumps--seems the mechanics of a catapult are at play. Click here for a link to a video of the catapult in the knee of a grasshopper (by the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, UK). Click here for the first page in a step-by-step series explaining how a grasshopper jumps (keep clicking "next" to read the entire explanation--also by the University of St. Andrews). If humans had the same capabilities, we would be able to fling ourselves over 40 feet away.
Have you ever seen a grasshopper poop?
...and did you ever think you'd see a title like that on my blog? I wasn't going to include these photos, but Matty convinced me "the news must be reported mom, and a grasshopper pooping is news...especially to my friends." So...here it is, for Matty's friends and other boys 12-16. Until Sunday, I had no idea what grasshopper excrement looked like because I'd never seen one defecate...so I guess you really do learn something new every day...
p.s. A neat book I found on the web is called "The Grasshopper Book," by Wilfrid S. Bronson. It was written for children in 1894. Click here for the preview. I loved the language and the artwork and am going to try to find it. Here is a brief excerpt:
Finally there comes a fair spring day when the lucky little grasshoppers hatch. The majority of insects begin life as caterpillars or maggots or grubs of some sort, eat furiously for a while, and then sink into a deep sleep during which all the alterations come about that change them from infants into adults. Their baby state is very different from the grown-up state. A caterpillar looks nothing like a butterfly, a maggot isn't like a fly, a grub bears no resemblance to a beetle or an ant. But a baby grasshopper is a grasshopper from the start. Lacking only wings, it is otherwise like its parents, except, of course, in its proportions. In common with many other infant animals, it has a head and legs which look a lot too large for its body. Besides the droll appearance this creates, it even shares a little of their look of charming innocence.
Red-legged Grasshopper from behind. Even at this angle, the grasshopper has beautiful markings...