Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Little Watcher in the Goldenrod

Red-legged Grasshopper (Melanoplus femurrubrum)
Grasshoppers are everywhere at this time of the year, dancing from one waving frond of greenery to another, peeking out from behind every wildflower.

Northern "hoppers" have a varied diet but prefer to feed on legumes (birdsfoot trefoil, white and yellow clover, vetches, and alfalfa), composites (dandelion, chicory, Canada goldenrod and ragweed) and grasses (Kentucky bluegrass, barley, oats, wheat and timothy).

The insects are prized as food in cultures like Mexico, China and Indonesia, and are considered delicacies - I have often seen tins of honey or chocolate dipped grasshoppers in local gourmet food shops.  The bugs also appear in art, featuring prominently in Dutch Golden Age works by artists such as Balthasar van der Ast and Rachel Ruysch.

Sir Thomas Gresham's sixteenth century (1563) merchant company at 68 Lombard Street in London boasted a gilded grasshopper on its sign in keeping with the Gresham family crest which featured a golden grasshopper on a green mound.  A grasshopper is also displayed on the crest of Gresham College, established in 1597 by a bequest in Sir Thomas's will.  While a golden grasshopper still forms the weather vane on the roof of the Royal Exchange founded by Gresham at 68 Lombard Street in 1565, the Exchange did not retain the grasshopper symbol on the original sign because of the grasshopper's association with locusts, locus swarms and (generally), pestilence - when certain species of European grasshoppers get together and swarm, they are called locusts.

In Asia, grasshoppers are symbols of good luck, also symbolizing fertility and abundance. And me? I just like looking at grasshoppers, and capturing them with camera and macro lens is ever a challenge because the little dears always seem to be in motion.


Jennifer said...

What a stunning photograph. Just beautiful!

Tabor said...

You make him look so soft and quiet! We have an abundance of insects this year, grasshoppers, butterflies, pollinators, etc. Guess our wet spring was just what they needed.

Guy said...

This is the most beautiful Grasshopper photo I have seen, you have translated a creature considered a pest into a heraldic marvel.

Just wonderful work.