Anacridium aegptium – or the fable of the ant and the grasshopper
but now I am naughty….and giving in to my insectophilia. There are two ways to read this post, well in truth 3 (1) skim/don’t read/ 2) read and think of summer/3) read and think of locusts)
Some of you will remember that in the beginnings of this blog there were dragon fly nymphs. There were dragon flies emerging into the sun-light, and dragon flies drying their wings in the sun directly after extrication, oh and there were dragon flies I spotted in the garden. And there were rose chafer grubs, and black vine weevils..And many of you, instead of saying, wow, isn’t that amazing” said “hm, looks a bit bizarre”…and I didn’t even post the photo of the dragon fly nymph sucking in a worm like a piece of spaghetti, which was indeed disturbing.
Anyhow, my excuse for posting the photograph above is that summer is coming! You remember Aesop’s fable of the ant and the grasshopper, the ant worked hard all the time and the cricket sat on a leaf and played his fiddle, and when the winter came, the poor cricket starved and the ant said ” well, told you so, should have put your back into it, byeeee” (**nowadays of course the ant would discover that his company had misinvested his pension fund and that all the money was gone and he would have to keep on working at the check out counter as a bag boy, while the cricket died while young but after a brief life of joy). – well the original was more elegant but that is the gist).
How often do we wish that we could be more like that grasshopper, sitting in the sun, relaxing, instead of running around as we go about our daily chores? For those of you who don’t like insects, you can stop reading now, think about cold drinks on warm summer nights outside on the deck. Summer is coming soon to a garden near you, unless you on the southern hemisphere..but then you are totally chilled now after your summer hols.
The cricket above, which I seem to remember was a female, I read up on it at the time, something to do with size, (I think the one below is a male ) emerged in a sunny garden in the South of Italy last summer. Instead of studying for my exams, I made good use of the internet to find out what type of insect it was. And I discovered this really cool website on the swarm risks of locusts. I also discovered that locusts emerge dependent on the population density, and that individual creatures are totally harmless, if you put lots of them together though at some point they reach critical mass, leading to changes in their metabolism and swarming behaviour. A sensible survival strategy of course. I may have learned this at school a long time ago, but since forgotten…..So there I was down in Italy and observing this animal, and after looking at loads of photos I decided the specimen above might be a risk to the local flora (those of you who know about this stuff, laugh if you must). And ever the good citizen, I sent the locust specialist chapter in Rome a very nice, albeit nerdy, email asking him whether it was a swarming type locust (desert locust) and whether it was new to Italy, and whether I should stop saving it (it had a damaged wing and couldn’t fly…), DOES somebody need to do SOMETHING?
I got this wonderful response from a guy with the title: Senior Locust Forecasting Officer (isn’t that a cool job title?) in green.
Thank you for your message and it is always pleasant to see somebody interested in locusts and grasshoppers. (this made me smile, as imagined him imaging me to an elderly English guy with an insect fixation sending frantic emails…)
What you saw during your holiday in Puglia was not Desert Locust but a local species of grasshopper. As you indicated that it had wing damage, then it was an adult rather than a hopper (juvenile nymph) which does not have wings until after it fledges and becomes an adult. Furthermore, you indicated that it was pale green. Desert Locust adults are never any shade of green; instead, they are dusty brown. Lastly, there are no infestations of Desert Locust near Italy that could have invaded Puglia. At present, the closest infestations are south of the Sahara in northern Niger and the winds are blowing from the north over the Sahara this time of year, preventing locusts from moving to southern Italy. Normally Desert Locusts are not a threat to Italy unless there is a plague in northern Africa that coincides with southerly winds at the right time of year. This is very rare. I hope that this helps to clarify what you saw. Once again, thank you for your time and interest.