Thursday 14 June 2018

Nosey grasshoppers

It’s not uncommon in southern Europe to come across a grasshopper that looks like a stick insect. A quick browse in Chinery’s book on insects and there was a species that matched it well – Acrida ungarica. This book gives no English name but more recently names that crop up are nosed grasshopper or cone-headed grasshopper, from its look, and Hungarian grasshopper, from its scientific name.

Insect ID often isn’t that easy and that’s the case here. Paul Tout, Honeyguide leader in Istria and Slovenia, sent me a link to an Italian picture showing two species. Some internet sources show three subspecies.

Then Paul Brock’s book ‘A photographic guide to Insects of Southern Europe & the Mediterranean’ was released late in 2017, and a visit to Crete in April was an ideal time to test this fine new book in the field.

Truxalis nasuta or Nosey Cone-headed Grasshopper, Crete, April 2018. Only easy to see this green form when it steps out of the vegetation.

The insects in Crete match perfectly what Brock calls Truxalis nasuta or Nosey Cone-headed Grasshopper (using Brock’s style of capital letters). The IUCN* calls this species Splendid Cone-headed Grasshopper.

The IUCN also says “The genus Acrida is in need of taxonomic revision”. However most references, Brock included, have simply two species: Acrida ungarica in much of central and southern Europe and Truxalis nasuta in the Mediterranean, including coastal Iberia, Crete and North Africa, albeit with maps showing quite a lot of overlap. I have re-labelled photos from Morocco as Truxalis, following Brock.

Truxalis nasuta, Morocco, March 2017. A dry year in Morocco so a brown form. 

Colour variation is a nice feature of these grasshoppers, green or brown to match the surrounding vegetation.

They’ve always been silent in my experience, but a recent post on YouTube from Spain shows that they rub their hind legs against their wings like other grasshoppers.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature

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