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by Valerie

February, 2011

Texas Short-winged Slant-faced Grasshopper

Texas short-winged slant-faced grasshopper

Grasshoppers are sometimes so common that they go completely unnoticed, except for those that decimate garden plants. Our semi-arid climate supports a moderately diverse group of species, and some are quite attractive. One of the tiniest has the longest common name of any insect around: the Texas short-winged slant-faced grasshopper (Eritettix abortivus). In general, grasshoppers have a wide variation in the size within each species, with males sometimes half the size of females. The smallest adult Texas s. s. grasshopper that I've found was about 1/2 inch in length. They more often are about 3/4 of an inch, which is still not very big for a grasshopper.

This is a winter insect, with adults being very common between November and March, although they are sometimes around even in the summer. It might seem difficult to distinguish adults from nymphs, since the wings (which are a sure sign of an ADULT insect) are so short. However, even in these small-winged grasshoppers, the shape of the adult vs. the nymph wing is quite different.

While grasshoppers eat a wide variety of plants, a good number are adapted to, well, grass. The lovely brown and tan markings of this species, which sometimes also includes a bit of green, helps it remain camouflaged amid the brown grasses of winter fields.

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