Slender Groundhopper

Tetrix subulata

Another groundhopper species which I discovered at the same pond as the Common Groundhopper (Tetrix undulata). There are only three species of groundhopper to be found in Britain, the other being Cepero’s Groundhopper (Tetrix ceperoi), which is rarer and found mainly along the south coast of England and Wales.

This is a small relative of the grasshoppers with colour ranges from pale brown, often with a pinkish tinge, to grey and black. It has a wide-shouldered pronotum which has a slight keel and usually reaches well beyond the tip of the abdomen. The wings extend beyond the pronotum, and they are fully capable of flight. Adults can also swim. Length 9 to 14mm. 

It feeds on low vegetation like algae, mosses and lichens.

Nymphs appear from May to July, and adults appear by August. Found in damp environments near ponds and in shaded, muddy locations. Fairly frequent in the south of Britain and the Midlands.

Photographs taken of the Slender Groundhopper (Tetrix subulata) in August 2015, local pond, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2015. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.

Common Groundhopper

Tetrix undulata

This is quite a small groundhopper which is from the order Orthoptera, the Grasshoppers and Crickets. Groundhoppers have their own family within this order called Tetrigidae. I came across this and many others on the damp margins of a local pond.

This is a small relative of the grasshoppers and is often overlooked it is so small. Apart from its small size, it is also well armoured with an extended pronotum which does not reach beyond the tip of the abdomen. The pronotum also has wide shoulders with a prominent keel and it often has dark spots on either side. The colour ranges from pale mottled brown to black, depending on its surroundings. It has very short wings which do not go beyond the pronotum, but it can fly. It can also swim. Length 8 to 11mm.

It feeds on low vegetation like mosses and lichens.

It is active all year round. Found in both dry and wet habitats, preferably in open habitats with bare ground and short vegetation. Common and widespread throughout.

Photographs taken of Common Groundhopper (Tetrix undulata) in August 2015, local pond, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2015. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.

Common Field Grasshopper

Chorthippus brunneus

The Common Field Grasshopper is usually brown, but green and other colour forms exist. Sharply angled keels on the top of the thorax and dense hair below. The wings stretch well beyond the tip of the abdomen, and enable them to fly some distance. The upper side of the tip of the abdomen is usually reddish, especially in males. Length 15 to 25mm. The song is a short sequence of chirps, similar to time-signal pips.

It feeds on low vegetation, but mainly grasses.

Seen June to October. It occurs mainly on dry grassland and meadows. It flies more readily than most grasshoppers, and it is also seen on mown lawns. Widespread and common.

Photographs taken August 2015, local fields, Staffordshire.

Meadow Grasshopper

Chorthippus parallelus

I have come across the Meadow Grasshopper quite often in my local fields. They are quite difficult to photograph as they tend to swivel around the grass stalk they are on everytime you get close to them. Its almost as if they are playing hide and seek with you!

This grasshopper is mainly green in colour, but can be either green or brown, or even pink or purple. The keels are almost straight on the thorax. A distinctive feature is that both males and females have very short wings (although males are somewhat longer), have no hindwings, and are flightless. The forewings have a bulge on the front lower edge. The knees are usually dark. A fully winged form does occur called (f. explicatus). Length 16 to 23mm. Its song is redolent of hot summer days, bursts of rough rasping sounds lasting in two to three second bursts.

It is strictly vegetarian, eating grass and other greenery.

It is mainly seen June to October. Found in all kinds of grassy places, but has a preference for damp meadows. One of the commonest and most familiar of the grasshoppers. Widespread.

Photographs taken July & August 2015, local fields, Staffordshire.

A Walk of Discovery

I am lucky enough to live right on the edge of green belt land, and this morning I ventured out amongst the trees and the grass before the rains came again. These are some of the wonderful and beautiful insects I came across in the English jungle. I have yet to identify them all.

Photographs taken June 2016, local walk, Staffordshire.

Roesel’s Bush-cricket

Metrioptera roeselii

A squat and bulky bush cricket, which is greenish brown in colour A very distinguishing feature is the white or pale green margin on the pronotum flaps. There are also pale yellowish spots just behind the pronotum on each side of the thorax. The wings are short on both sexes and reach about halfway along the body, and they are flightless, although during hot summers fully winged forms are able to fly. The ovipositor is short and upcurved. The song is fairly unusual, a uniform high-pitched buzzing that continues for long periods, not unlike that of a dentist’s drill. Length 14 to 25mm. Ovipositor 6mm.

They are omnivorous, but mainly feed on plant material.

Seen June to November. It prefers tall, lush grassland which is dry to damp, but most often in association with river valleys. Also found in brown field sites in urban areas, and arable land. It is mainly a southern and coastal species, where its is widespread and abundant, although it has gradually spread inland and northwards.

Photographs taken  July 2015, local field, Staffordshire.