Grasshopper Blues

2011_10_12 EC - Blue-winged Grasshopper (Oedipoda caerulescens)
Bluewinged Grasshopper (Oedipoda caerulescens)

I was out in El Chiquero for a picnic with my wife. You know, riverbank, blanket, chicken sandwiches, white wine, 36C heat, dried Manchegan countryside full of thistles prickling you from beneath the blanket, ants scurrying about. Idyllic… No actually it was very pleasant, apart from the thistles, which seem to be everywhere. Not only were they everywhere but I was also amazed at how many grasshoppers there were.

The most noticeable is the Bluewinged Grasshopper (Oedipoda caerulescens) owing to its beautiful blue wings when it takes off. It almost looks like a butterfly. The others grasshoppers just seem to jump out of your way as you walk along, or if they do fly their wings are dull and unnoticeable. These guys however, provide a brief burst of colour when they take off. Colour is something the countryside is missing right now after the long, seemingly never-ending summer. Everything is burnt. Even the hardy oaks and olives look sick to death of the sun.

The Blue-winged Grasshopper also has different body colours depending on where it lives. As you can see in the shot above it is a reddish-brown since it lives in an earthy habitat. Others I have seen, as below, live amongst rocks and are a grey, ashy colour. It all depends on the substrate they grow up on.

Blue-winged Grasshopper (Oedipoda caerulescens)
Bluewinged Grasshopper (Oedipoda caerulescens)

I think it´s amazing how a body reacts to its environment in this way. How do the cells in the body know what colour the substrate is? Many animals choose their habitat depending on their body colour, but in this case, the habitat is what chooses the colour of your body. And yet then they have blue wings…like nobody is going to notice that…

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