Monday, January 14, 2013

Grasshopper Mating

Grasshoppers are sexy- take it from our Master Naturalist Towanda Warriors.  During a recent outing along Bull Creek they hiked, practiced yoga (I can't send those over the Web) and observed nature.  

A highlight was watching a pair of grasshopper who patiently ignored us for 10 minutes while they went about their business.  It appears that November was mating season.  I was curious about their species but didn't have the heart to interrupt them to check their wing pattern.  They finally jumped away, flying awkwardly to a more private rendezvous.

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Males attract mates in the fall mating season with some combination of calls, appearance, pheromones, and in some species by drumming and posturing.  Their calls, called stridulation, are created by rubbing the rasp-like lower back legs against the forewings.  Mating itself may last from 45 minutes to all day.  Some species mate with multiple males, the newest males sperm replacing the the prior male's donation.

A recent study reported by Time demonstrated that some grasshoppers have learned to adapt to human noise.  They demonstrated that "male bow-winged grasshoppers, Chorthippus biguttulus, who live near highways adapt their mating calls to make them audible to females over expressway noise."   They placed 188 separate grasshoppers in a box facing a female and recoredd their calls.  Those collected by highways produced a higher-pitched call to rise above highway noise.  This study was done in Germany and it hasn't been repeated yet along I-44.

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National Geographic discussed the nutritional value of grasshoppers and other insects.  Did you know that a 100 grams of grasshoppers contains 20 grams of protein and 153 calories?  Did you care?  I think that they would be an excellent diet food as you would burn at least 1000 calories catching that many grass hoppers.

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