What’s more difficult to see…

…than a Trimerotropis latifasciata (broad-banded grasshopper) adult on lichen-encrusted clay exposures?

Answer: A T. latifasciata nymph on lichen-encrusted clay exposures.

My thanks to David J. Ferguson for confirming my initial ID as a species of Trimerotropis and provisionally placing these individuals as T. latifasciata.  Of course, I’m not at all an expert in grasshopper identification, but I recognized these individuals, found atop the red, flat-topped mesa of Gloss Mountain State Park in northwestern Oklahoma, for their great similarity to T. saxatilis (lichen grasshopper), a striking, more greenish species (at least here in Missouri) that I had hoped to but did not see during my visit to Lichen Glade Natural Area back in late May (it may have been too early in the season for them).  At first I thought these individuals might represent that species, considering the abundance of lichens that encrusted the clay exposures atop the mesa.  However, according to David the red hind tibia (seen in the photo below of a different adult – sans left front leg), longer wings, occurrence on clay (rather than rock or sand), and location in the Great Plains make T. latifasciata the most tenable choice.

Like T. saxatilis and other species of the genus, T. latifasciata provides a marvelous example of the use of camouflage (i.e., blending in with surroundings) – a form of crypsis – to avoid detection by predators.  Finding this species only strengthens my desire to find (and photograph) T. saxatilis – speckled green, white and black – amidst the green lichens that encrust the red igneous outcroppings of the St. Francois Mountains some 100 miles south of St. Louis.

Photo Details: Canon 50D w/ 100mm macro lens, (ISO 100, 1/250 sec, f/18-20, Canon MT-24EX flash (1/4 ratio) w/ Sto-Fen diffusers, and typical post-processing (levels, minor cropping, unsharp mask).

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2010

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20 thoughts on “What’s more difficult to see…

  1. Very nice images, Ted!

    I came away with renewed appreciation for orthopteran crypsis after seeing my first toothpick grasshoppers in Arizona this year at the 2010 Invertebrates in Education and Conservation Conference.

    I have posted two (Sumichrast’s Toothpick Grasshopper (Achurum sumichrasti) and Snow’s Toothpick Grasshopper (Prorocorypha snowi)) thus far and will put up a few more over the next week or so.

    Gotta love orthopteran diversity!

  2. Synchronicity! I just posted on Facebook a photo of Leuronotina ritensis that I took on a lichen-encrusted rock in Arizona last week. It’s a contender for an answer to the question posed in the title of this post.

  3. Hi Ted – the term “crypsis” is a new one for me – apparently more specific than “camouflage.” I always learn something new from your posts.

    …I’m gonna rule the scrabble board with this one!


    • Hi Amber. Actually, “camouflage” (blending into one’s surroundings) is one form of crypsis (the ability of an organism to avoid detection by other organisms), and it probably would have been a better term for me to use here. Other forms of crypsis include nocturnal or subterranean lifestyles, transparency, and mimicry.

  4. It is the season of the grasshopper! I’ll be doing a short course / survey of grasshoppers with high school potential field biologists tomorrow, and of course saw some nice ones in Arizona last week.

    So the question is, what good resources might you all use for identification of Missouri grasshoppers?

    • Hi Morgan – your kind comments are greatly appreciated. I don’t know that I’ve radically changed anything in particular – just continually refining and benefiting from continued practice. I am using a dual-diffuser setup for the 65mm shots, but these were taken with the 100mm.


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