Saturday, August 1, 2009

What's in a Grasshopper?

A few weeks ago while preparing my dogs' baskets, I found this grasshopper amongst the blankets. I carefully lifted him onto a piece of cardboard and carried him to my succulant garden. He was very suspicious of me and tried to creep out of sight as quickly as possible. I managed to fetch my camera and at least got a few shots of this gloriously coloured insect before it disappeared completely.
When I looked it up in my "Essential Illustrated Guide to Southern African Wildlife" by Readers Digest, I saw that it is called a Stink Locust (because, when threatened, it emits a vile-smelling yellow fluid ) or a Gaudy Grasshopper.
This guy only has short, non-functional wings so when in danger, it can do no better than just hop away. The bright colours, however, serve as a warning to predators. Apparently they're a pest for fruit trees and vegetables but I've never had a problem with them. I use no pesticides in my garden. All are welcome to visit or live in my garden.
When I returned to South Africa in 2006 and began to revamp my garden in earnest, my husband showed me a fellow similar to the one above crawling up one of the shrubs. He said: "You'd better kill it, or it will wreck your garden" (Ole drama king!) I said, no, just leave nature to itself but I could see he didn't believe me. A few hours later he called me and excitedly pointed to a thorn on the acacia tree. A locust had been caught and hung there by the Common Fiscal which is also known here as Jackie Hangman or the Butcher Bird. This neat black and white bird is part of the shrike family and hangs it's food on barbed wire fences or on thorn tree spikes until it's ready to eat it.
I looked at hubby and said: "Well dear, I rest my case..."


  1. Yes, nature does take care of herself. Lovely photos!

  2. Awe Jo... Glad you didn't upset that Stink Locust... You probably wouldn't have enjoyed the 'stink'... ha... We had a skunk on our deck recently --and we just let him wander around. He finally left---but we definitely didn't want to upset him...

    We're headed to Florida. Be home about the 9th... Have a great week.

  3. LOL! The birds are your pest control..that's great. I haven't seen such a colorful grasshopper before.

  4. Thanks Dedene;) Good to see you!

    Hi Betsy;) yes, I'd not fiddle with anything that can emit horrid smells. I hope you're having a wonderful holiday. Enjoy!

    Hi Pat;) yes, my whole garden and outlook on life is pro-nature looking after itself. (((Hugs)))

  5. Good of you to rescue the grasshopper. Hope it didn't give off it's vile stinky stuff. Such gorgeous colors and patterns. I like a natural look to gardens.

  6. Good morning Jo,
    thank you for your lovely comment on my bird poem. By your description of the Grey-Headed Shrike it jus about describes the call but it is a single call and you have to wait quite a while for the next one. We only have the Native Grey Shrike-Thrush here and he has a beautiful melodious song.

    My garden is also a pesticide free zone although I have used poison twice, once when 1/2" toxic biting ants had a huge nest in my garden, the first one was taken elsrwhere when I reasoned with them and promised not to harm them if they moved out into the paddock which they did. The second lot were in my Tulip bed and they attacked when you cut the grass or stopped to smell the Tulips let alone try to weed. They refused to move so unfortunately I had to help them along. Last summer we had an invasion of European wasps, again dangerously toxic, so they got the fly-spray.
    Thanks for letting me lighten my conscience a little.

  7. Wow! I've never seen a creature like it in my life! But then again, I've hardly seen anything dangerous in Niger ever... Not even a scorpion that wasn't kept as a pet, except for a harmless baby in the wild!


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