Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Grasshoppers--Staff of Life for Many

Grasshoppers are the staple diet for many a critter out here JOTOLR.  These include snakes, frogs, rodents, lizards, hornets, spiders--and, of course, turkeys.  Even humans in some more basic cultures consume grasshoppers in season, with great relish.  And, of course there are the not-so-basic cultures which prefer their grasshoppers roasted and then chocolate-covered.

  Our turkeys are thriving on the clouds of grasshoppers that drift over the drying grass.  They run like feathered beetles, chasing after these mini-meals on wings.  So far the experiment to let the turkeys free-range, has been mixed.  They want proximity to humans so we've had to discourage --via electric fence--their desire to roost on the porch.  The flipside is their perpetual motion.  They are constantly on the move, flushing grasshoppers and exploring other types of food, clicking to one another as they move, staying in touch.

When MM and I lived in Cairns, Queensland, Australia, we encountered what must have been some of the largest grasshoppers in the world.  Nearly four inches long, they flew like birds through our yard.  For a look at them, go to Giant Valangas Grasshoppers.  
In Australia, it often seems everything is bigger than life!  The "flying foxes" are not "foxes" at all, but rather super-sized bats. They used to fly in of an evening and hang out in our mango tree. I think of them often as we watch the tiny bats here rounding up in the morning, to sleep for the day, swooping overhead as we sip coffee on the porch.  They're small, thank goodness!  The ones that visited our mango tree in Cairns, had a wingspan of probably 18 inches or so. 
And, it's interesting that bats --whatever their size--eat grasshoppers that are caught out at dusk.  Big grasshoppers for big bats in Australia; smaller grasshoppers for smaller bats in this country!


  1. I love that phrase "clouds of grasshoppers." I feel as though I'm riding through those clouds when I'm on the mower (as I was yesterday). There was a time, not that long ago, when I would have freaked OUT at the idea of grasshoppers landing on my skin! Maybe I'm a country girl after all.

  2. You've come a long way, Debbi...! Even I don't like the feel of those sharp, grasping little grasshopper feet on my arm! Depending on their size, they'll snag my finger when I'm walking through tall grass and it jars my sensibilities every time.


  3. Elora -- You got it right about size of predator and food. Nature knows what it is doing. What a grand way to start the day -- sitting on your porch, sipping some java -- watching clouds of grasshoppers and tiny bats. Sounds serene. -- barbara

  4. We only have teeny tiny grasshoppers, 1-2 cms long though my wildlife book lists 10 kinds of grasshoppers and 13 types of cricketsin the UK. Our grasshoppers can be quite noisy but it is rare to hear crickets. I associate the sounds of crickets with 'abroad', the constant daytime sounds of the Mediterranean and the evening sound of crickets takes me back to the year I lived in Canada 48 years ago. Oh and our bats only eat little flying insects.

  5. We too are blessed with grasshoppers and bats. A place for everything...and everything in its place.