Photo of the Week – July 7, 2016

I bet you won’t be surprised to learn that this particular grasshopper feeds primarily on this particular plant…

Hypo

A cudweed grasshopper stares at me as I slowly edge toward it with my camera.  The Nature Conservancy’s Niobrara Valley Preserve, Nebraska.

The coloring of the cudweed grasshopper (Hypochlora alba – aka sagebrush grasshopper, greenish-white grasshopper, mugwort grasshopper) could not be more perfect as camouflage when it sits on cudweed sagewort (Artemisia ludoviciana – aka white sage, Louisiana sagewort).  This small flightless grasshopper is known to feed on other plants, but primarily eats cudweed sagewort, a plant that has relatively few other herbivores.

I’ve been seeing this grasshopper for years, but had never been able to photograph it until last week at the Niobrara Valley Preserve.  For some reason, I’ve always seen them when I didn’t have a camera, was busy doing something else, or when the light wasn’t right for photography.  Last weekend, everything finally came together, including a grasshopper that was patient enough to allow me to stick a camera in its face without hopping away.  (This was not the first one I attempted to photograph…)

Grasshopper

A side view of a Hypochlora alba female.

This might be the most impressive camouflage I’ve seen in an invertebrate, but it’s far from the only example of little creatures matching its environment well.  Here are a few other posts I’ve done on well-camouflaged bugs.

https://prairieecologist.com/2013/04/28/a-dandy-little-predator/

https://prairieecologist.com/2010/11/22/an-inchworm-in-disguise/

https://prairieecologist.com/2014/11/28/photo-of-the-week-november-28-2014/