I’ve always had a fascination for grasshoppers. It’s just been in the past couple of years that I’ve really learned anything about them. I was hesitant to delve into grasshopper identification, because I perceived such a vast number of local species. The truth is that the possible variations within a species make it seem that there are many species involved. This is a Northern Green-striped Grasshopper, Chortophaga viridifasciata, a species that produces both green and brown forms. The occurrence of multiple forms seems to be found in many grasshopper species.
As a child, I always seemed to have a few pet grasshoppers hidden around the house. When viewed in hand, grasshoppers always had the most interesting detailed markings and facial expressions. Add to that the difficulty in catching a grasshopper by hand and you have a creature that made a perfect companion for an active youth.
My interest in grasshoppers actually got me into trouble one spring day when I was in the sixth grade. My teacher was explaining insect development and was displaying a poster with the standard progression of grasshopper from egg to adult. She explained that the eggs hatched in the spring and the grasshopper proceeded through its various growth stages until it became a winged adult in the fall. When I asked why there were winged adults in the school yard right now, which happened to be early April, she told me I was wrong. A short argument ended with my departing the classroom on the way out of the school to catch an adult grasshopper. I never made it out of the building, but I did get to share my views on grasshoppers with the Principal and he shared his views on not causing trouble with me.
The fact is that many grasshoppers overwinter as a nymph. Their transformation to adult is accomplished in early spring. The Northern Green-striped Grasshopper follows that schedule, so they come into spring in this stage and go through their final molt soon after becoming active.
Warm days full of grasshoppers always remind me of my early life. I don’t know what species I was catching back then, but I’m sure this was one of them. It’s nice to be able to put a name to some of my old friends.