I figure I better follow up a review of a controversial with a discussion of a controversial natural object: the grasshopper. This is one of those love it or hate it topics. I seem to know an awful lot of people who are really wigged out at the appearance of a grasshopper (many in my own family). I have naturalist friends who are fascinated by them and know a LOT more about them than I do.
This being a big year for the hoppers, I thought I’d learn more about the ones here at the Hermits’ Rest, and I’ve been sharing some photos here and there, and did a post on their cool names. I am not able to get them by net (even though I keep saying I’ll buy one, I forget), so most of my photos are rather blurry, but I’ve had fun identifying them, with help from my expert friend Eric on iNaturalist.
Most of the grasshoppers you see around the ranch are boopedons, a name you just have to love. More on them later.
I did find a really pretty grasshopper (if you think they can be pretty) with a cool name over by our church office on Friday. These are the Obscure Bird grasshoppers (Schistocerca obscura). The stripes on their backs and the dots on their legs make them very striking.
Back at the ranch, today I went on a hunt, and only found one grasshopper-like insects that weren’t Boopedon (to be precise, the prairie boopie, the best name ever), a katydid.
It turns out that male and female prairie boopies (Boopedon gracile) look very different, so what I’d thought was a different species, was, indeed, just a female of the same species. I learned this when I FINALLY found a detailed article on them.
I also learned that “Prairie boopies are typically found in dense grasses, including prairies, rangeland, and savanna habitats. In Oklahoma, this species was reported to be more abundant in overgrazed prairies than natural ones.” (This is from Grasshoppers of the Western US, a really interesting site.) I’m happy to know they aren’t officially classified as pests (unless you hate grasshoppers, I guess).
Anyhow, as I went about observing away, I realized the front field was a like a sea, with little bobbing boopie boats on it.
Then I noticed that they were very fond of the nightshade plants next to the driveway.
I quickly realized these grasshoppers are at the height of adulthood. Most of them were mating. They don’t need privacy (being grasshoppers). You can see how different the female looks in this picture.
As I walk along, I tend to send boopies flying away (but only males, because I just learned the females are flightless!). Here’s video proof. Warning: I think I sing. Lucky for you it’s only 35 seconds long.
Other than how hard these guys feel when they hit me as I drive Hilda, I’ve gotten fond of these guys. Both Vlassic and the chickens love to eat them, and at the moment I don’t have any tender plants they will kill.
It’s been fun watching them grow, and I guess somewhere out there will soon be a lot of grasshopper eggs. I’ll have to look those up next…sigh, no I won’t. I’m crushed: “Little is known about the reproduction of prairie boopies” (from the above web link). Well, we have plenty of them here, even though they apparently aren’t often found in high densities (I beg to differ).
I guess I’ll be booping along now. That’s all I know about the prairie boopie. I lie. They are also known as the graceful range grasshopper, and were identified by Rehn in 1904.
I bet I’d get an A on this report in high school. (Get me away from the keyboard.)