Recently I was invited to go on a field trip, as a consulting Naturalist, with my brother (Jimmy) and sister-in-law (Twalla) who are owners of Happy Time Day Care. This was to answer questions posed by sixteen of their 4th and 5th grade Day-Care Kids. We spent the morning at the Ft. Worth Nature Refuge. It was fun, but it kept me busy. It was…. Troy, come look at this spider…. Troy, what kind of flower is this? Troy, come look at my bug…. Troy, I found a wasp nest…. Troy, there is a really big snake in the water!!! etc. etc. etc. It was really fun with this group of kids. I am looking forward to next year’s outing.
I was walking down a trail through some of the tall Prairie Grass, when I came across an interesting grasshopper that I had never seen before. From a distance it looked like a large “bird dropping” on a blade of grass. I thought it was pretty cool, so I photographed it for ID later that night.
This was the first one that I had ever seen with this color pattern. It was really puzzling. After looking at the photo that night and going through all of our field guides, I was stumped. I was not able to identify it, so I went back the next day and spent an hour looking for this individual or a similar specimen.
Like many other things in life, you only get one chance at some things. I should know better, shoot lots of photos! Since I was running back and forth, helping the kids, it slipped my mind to open a wing and photograph it. I will say it again. Shoot lots of photos.
I thought it might be a possible Conozoa of the Band-winged Grasshoppers, so I put the photo on Bug Guide. In a few days, Eric R. Eaton (author of Kaufman - Field Guide to Insects of North America) suggested that it might be Arphia. In fact, it is pictured on pp. 72-73 of that excellent book minus the white coloring.
In just a couple of weeks, its identity was confirmed by David J. Ferguson, an entomologist of New Mexico. What threw me off in identification was the large amount of white coloration on this particular specimen.
Ft. Worth Nature Center and Refuge,
Tarrant County, Texas, USA
June 3, 2008
Size: 1.25 inches
Arthropods (Arthropoda) » Insects (Insecta) » Grasshoppers, Crickets, Katydids (Orthoptera) » Grasshoppers (Caelifera) » Short-horned Grasshoppers (Acrididae) » Band-winged Grasshoppers (Oedipodinae) » Arphia » Sulfurwinged Grasshopper (Arphia sulphurea)
I highly recommend Bug Guide for tough ID’s. If you have an Agricultural College in your state, ‘Google up’ an entomologist from that University. They are usually a good source of information and help.
To see the Specimen on Bug Guide, Click here.
Leave a comment if you have had any experience with Bug Guide or use Kaufman’s Field Guide to the Insects of N.A. or if you just like the photo.
Troy and Martha