GRASSHOPPERS: JUMP TO IT   Leave a comment


 

Wildlife, nature, fauna and flora of Costa Rica.

It has been another grey, overcast and showery day today so the sightings were few and far between, more as a result of my not getting out rather than the wildlife staying away.

Apart from the obvious mammals, birds and butterflies of which I maintain daily recorded observations there are several other things that I take note of.  I always pass by the pond on a two or three times a day to see what species of dragonfly may be hawking or breeding.  At the moment there are three regular resident species, Micrathyria ocellata, Libellula herculea and Orthemis ferruginea.  They are nearly always the males that inhabit the area by the pond.  Each individual is competing to set up the most advantageous perch to catch the sun, watch for prey and keep a look out for any female who may venture into the area.  They are constantly busy, chasing away other males, hovering over the water before momentarily settling only to take off again and repeat the performance.

There are many other insects that fall into the miscellaneous category in terms of observations simply because I only see them sporadically.  This would include the praying mantises, walking sticks, grasshoppers and katydids. I do have a particular liking for these creatures, they all seem to have character, but unfortunately I don’t see them as often as I would like.  But today I had several grasshoppers sitting perfectly placed at head height on some of the low shrubs and posing, (unintentionally), for photographs.

I also like to keep a diary of the flowering and fruiting of the various plants.  Some of them are very distinctive and pose no problems, others, despite having flowers or fruit that you would think unmistakable, don’t seem to appear in any of the guides to the flora of the area.  Today I have been photographing two fruits that I found that need further investigation before I can name them.  At the moment, we have the Hog Plums, (Spondias mombin), continuing to produce copious amounts of fruit as they have done for several months now.  The Cannonball Tree, (Couroupita guianensis), is still flowering prolifically and has started to produce the distinctive “cannonball” fruits.  Figs, well figs just don’t seem to stop fruiting.  We also have a wonderful floral display being provided by the Golden Trumpet Vine, (Allamandra cathartica), with its vibrant yellow blossoms intertwined throughout the vegetation near the Bosque restaurant.

So, even though at first it might have seemed as if there was a little less variety than normal, once again, you just have to re-adjust your point of reference and you will see far more than you could wish for.

 

Grasshoppers: Jump To It

Grasshoppers and Katydids belong to the insect order Orthoptera which means straight wings.  Grasshoppers can easily be distinguished from katydids by their short antennae whereas the latter have long filamentous whip-like antennae. Characteristic of both though are the huge rear legs which can propel them long distances when disturbed.  Another feature of the Orthoptera is the ability of most males to “sing”.  The sound is produced either by the rubbing together of the rear legs and the wings or the front and hind wings, a process which is known as stridulation.  The sound can sometimes be melodic but other times can contribute to a constant hiss, an insect white noise, particularly in the evening.  If they are producing sound then they should be able to hear.  To this effect grasshoppers have hearing organs on the abdomen, katydids have hearing organs on the front legs.  For the most part, orthopterans are herbivorous but there are some carnivorous katydids. They are a very mixed and diverse group of arthropods.  If they stay around long enough without jumping or flying away, they are always worth a second look.

Philip Davison Is a Biologist, Writer and Photographer Based in Costa Rica

 

 

 

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Posted September 9, 2010 by felipedelbosque in Philip's Nature Diary

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