Wildlife Photography | Hopper Season
“When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,
And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run
From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead;
That is the grasshopper’s — he takes the lead
In summer luxury — he has never done
With his delights, for when tired out with fun,
He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed.“
Orthoptera is the order of insects that the grasshoppers, crickets and katydids belong to. Orthopterans are pretty much divided up into two groups, the long-horned (katydids and crickets) and the short-horned (grasshoppers). Grasshoppers are, for the most part, the ones you hear singing during the day. And of course I use the word “singing” loosely, they certainly don’t sound as pretty as the katydids do on a summer night.
Lets take a moment to talk about locusts. The term ‘locust” is used to refer to the swarming phase of some species of grasshoppers. A couple of things happen in order for the grasshopper to change from an ordinarily harmless, solitary insect into the news worthy, devastating, swarming locust. When environmental conditions are favorable for reproduction, more eggs are laid and as a result end up closer together in proximity. Overcrowding conditions become present and this results in grasshoppers bumping into each other. The constant stimulation of the hind legs cause increased levels of serotonin to be released. As a result, the hoppers go through morphological (change to a different color) and physiological changes that make them gregarious, eat more, and mate/reproduce more rapidly.
Kind of like the insect equivalent of mob mentality. Then its game on as they swarm from green patch to green patch devastating crops and vegetation.
Anyhow, I used to have to drive to locations to photograph insects. I think I take for granted that I now live on a property that has so many different little eco-types that contain different kinds of flora and fauna. We all know I live on a swamp, that comes up into some higher ground that contains white pine, maple and cherry forest (where I like to photo-stalk the deer and fox). But I also have a little patch of a field grasses, that I like to refer to as little Cambodia because it is soooo thick. Seriously, if we let it go (which we do let the borders of the area go) the vegetation gets as tall as your shoulders. Its a buzzing hot spot for insects. Everything is in it’s peak during mid-summer…just takes the motivation to sit out there with the camera in the heat and humidity.