Friday, July 29, 2011

Cloak of invisibility

Walking along the railway tracks near Kwomais Point, we disturbed a tribe of large grey grasshoppers. We see many of these on hot summer days, and invariably, I must stop and follow them. One will burst out almost from under my feet, flashing black and white (pale grey?*) wings. The flight lasts barely a second; if I'm not alert, by the time I've looked his way, he's gone, invisible. Search as I will, I can't see the grasshopper until I almost step on him. Then he's off again.

Sometimes, if the light's just right, and I happen to be looking the right way, I see one land. Sometimes I even manage to focus the camera on the precise patch of gravel he has hidden on, zooming in from a distance. Rarely can I find him in the resulting photo.

Yesterday afternoon, one made a mistake; she landed on the rail instead of the surrounding rocks.

The merest hint of a pattern in mottled greys.

I got two photos, but when I leaned forward for a third, she took off again. This time, I couldn't see where she landed at all.

Compare her colouring to the rocks nearby, the ones she finally hid herself among:

The same blue-greys and palest browns as the rocks. Even her eyes match.

I also saw a smaller, more colourful hopper on those same rocks. I saw him land; I could not find him, staring straight at the spot where I knew he was sitting. And I think I have sharp eyes. Amazing!

Update: David Ferguson, at BugGuide, has identified her as a female Carolina grasshopper, Dissosteira carolina.  There's a photo of the black and *cream wing pattern here.


  1. Good Camo for the light rocks!

  2. I remember walking through the dry grass of a wilderness air strip having the grasshoppers leaping all around our feet. We captured a few for impromptu bait to catch some trout in the nearby lake. Guess that wasn't such a good thing for the hoppers. - Margy


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