Monday, 20 August 2012

Three Grasshopper species at Ainsdale, Lancashire

July 30 & August 2:
An area of sandy grassland near to a major nature reserve at Ainsdale had three species of grasshopper. In short dry turf where there were rabbit scrapes in the sandy soil, Mottled Grasshopper (Myrmeleotettix maculatus) was very frequent and present in a wide range of colour forms varying from green, through brown, to black. This is a relatively small grasshopper in comparison to the two other species found here: the Field Grasshopper (Chorthippus brunneus) widespread across most of the area and the Common Green Grasshopper (Omocestus viridulus) restricted to the longer, more dense grassland on the west side. Some colour forms of the Mottled Grasshopper are shown below and may result from cryptic adaptation to the habitat.

Green forms above, brown forms below

A black form of the Mottled Grasshopper

Two colour forms of the Field Grasshopper also occur here: a brown one which is the commoner, and a green one. This species is very hairy below the abdomen which can also have a reddish tip.

Field Grasshopper in  two colour forms

On the other hand the Common Green Grasshopper was only found in its most typical form.

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