Greenstriped Grasshopper Nymph

by Carl Strang

Most singing insects in northeast Illinois and northwest Indiana mature in the latter part of summer, but there are a few species that sing in the spring and early summer. The difference is that most species survive the winter in the relatively safe egg stage, buried in the ground or a plant stem. The exceptions spend the winter as nymphs. Some of these are cicadas, safely protected beneath the soil. Others, however, take a course that seems riskier, having to bury themselves in the vegetation close to the ground or perhaps finding a soil crack that gives them some protection. Because they are small, they are easily missed. Last week I had the good fortune to spot a tiny brown grasshopper.

This was my first look at a greenstriped grasshopper nymph in the autumn.

The head start allows them to mature quickly in the spring, when the tender early plants are less well defended and provide the fodder for rapid growth of herbivores ready to take advantage of them.

Here is a mature male greenstriped grasshopper. The females are green. That does not necessarily mean that the nymph was a male.

The color, the ridge through the eye and the crest on the top of the thorax, as well as the lack of other spring grasshopper species at Mayslake Forest Preserve, leave no doubt of the nymph’s identity. Greenstriped grasshoppers are the first singing insects to display in our area, performing rattling display flights called crepitation. Soon they are followed by other early season species including spring field crickets, protean shieldbacks and gladiator meadow katydids. That gives us singing insect enthusiasts a longer season to enjoy the tiniest wild musicians.


1 Comment

  1. October 26, 2012 at 5:42 am

    […] I shared a photo of a greenstriped grasshopper nymph. At the time, I wondered whether the brown colors of males and the green colors of females might […]

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