Sulfur-winged Variations

by Carl Strang

Memorial Day weekend brought a reunion with my brother, Gary, in our hometown of Culver, Indiana. Among the many reminiscences and activities were a few visits to places where I hoped to find early season singing grasshopper species. By the time I got home I had accumulated 5 county records for sulfur-winged grasshoppers.

This is the source of the name. I was careful in handling them, and released them all unharmed.

This is the source of the name. I was careful in handling them, and released them all unharmed.

Along the way I found color variations, between the genders and between locations.

Here is a typical female at Memorial Forest, Marshall County.

Here is a typical female at Memorial Forest, Marshall County.

Another female from the same population was yellower.

Another female from the same population was yellower.

On the whole, though, females were much less variable than males.

All the females had broad blue bands on their tibias.

All the females had broad blue bands on their tibias.

Males generally were darker than females and, as is typical in grasshoppers, were smaller.

At some sites, males had striking yellow edges on their forewings.

At some sites, males had striking yellow edges on their forewings.

From above, the pale streak resembles a piece of dead grass stem, and breaks up the general dark mass of the grasshopper’s outline.

From above, the pale streak resembles a piece of dead grass stem, and breaks up the general dark mass of the grasshopper’s outline.

Elsewhere males had little or no pale edging.

Elsewhere males had little or no pale edging.

Tibia color also was not consistent. This seems surprising, as the behavior of grasshoppers when they meet often includes a display of tibias.

Sometimes males showed the typical grasshopper pattern of matching female tibia colors, as in this individual from Newton County, Indiana.

Sometimes males showed the typical grasshopper pattern of matching female tibia colors, as in this individual from Newton County, Indiana.

Often, though, the lower tibias were completely black (Memorial Forest).

Often, though, the lower tibias were completely black (Memorial Forest).

There still is time to find sulfur-winged grasshoppers in more of the 22 counties of the region I am surveying, and I will be interested in seeing how these variations play out.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: