Grasshoppers of Alice Springs



If you’ve seen one grasshopper, you’ve seen them all. Or so we thought until the last month in Alice Springs. Unusually heavy rainfall in January and February has led to an explosion in insect numbers in the region. Grasshoppers have been particularly noticeable among those insects, and have gone into a breeding frenzy, leading to a plague that threatens serious damage to local agricultural interests.When we walk into the bushland around Alice Springs the grasshoppers don’t appear to be causing that much damage. They feed on the local grasses, which have also benefitted from the rains. Of course, other creatures, notably birds and reptiles, feed upon those grasshoppers and so, fattened up, are able themselves to increase their numbers. The grasshoppers are simply a very visible reminder of the cycle of nature in the centre of Australia.The most interesting thing for us has been the sheer variety of grasshopper species on display. We have never seen so many in one place; indeed, we have never before seen many of the species now on display.Unfortunately, they are difficult to photograph. Most are small (although the largest is around 5cm long) and most jump away whenever they are approached. Grasshoppers tend not to sit and wait as a large creature looms towards them, even a benevolent one armed only with a camera. So, I have included here some photos of the slower members of the grasshopper fraternity, and readers will have to take my word that there are others species that were too quick for me and which therefore do not appear in the following images.Peter
March 2010
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