Up close with differential grasshopper

Sunday, October 21, 2012

There are many kinds of grasshoppers native to North America. This photo shows an adult grasshopper called a differential grasshopper, which I found at the edge of a soybean field. It is sitting on a soybean stalk that holds two ripe, hairy soybean pods.

The differential grasshopper, which is common throughout most of the U.S., is one of the largest grasshoppers to appear in Southeast Missouri. An adult can grow to about 2 1/2 inches in length. This grasshopper will eat crops such as alfalfa and soybean leaves and blooms, but it is most often found in weed patches where one of its favored foods is the leaves of the ragweed plant.

The differential grasshopper can be brown, green, yellow or gray. A distinctive mark of an adult differential grasshopper is the dark chevron pattern on its strong hind legs. Smaller kinds of grasshoppers are good pan-fish bait, while differential grasshoppers are great bait for catching catfish.

Through the Woods is a weekly photo column by Aaron Horrell. Find this column at semissourian.com to order a reprint of the photo. Find more work by him at the Painted Wren Gallery.

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