Foaming Grasshopper

I’m glad I did not know this grasshopper’s name until I returned home and was able to research it — I love nature, but if I pick something up and it starts exuding a pungent foam in my hand, I’m done. Peace out, Dictyophorus spumans!

BUT the fact that it can make a toxic and foul foam is really cool. How? It eats plants that have the toxins in it, like Milkweed. The grasshopper’s stomach filters out the toxins and is able to use them to make the foam.

Also, quick lessons I learned while trying to identify this guy:

Not a Cricket. 

Crickets typically have flatter bodies, longer antennae, and are active at night (these are generalizations, but typically true). They are the ones that chirp at different speeds related to the temperature, and make noise by rubbing their wings together. Grasshoppers make noise by rubbing their legs to their body or wing.

Crickets and Grasshoppers are related by being in the same Order, which is like being second-cousins that share the same great-grandparents.

While we’re at it, might as well clarify Locusts.

Gasshoppers are Locust, but only referred to as Locusts when they swarm.

This isn’t a distinction on species, but more so based on the suitable conditions being present— mainly that there is already a lot of grasshoppers. The grasshoppers get over stimulated, then a little too happy on the serotonin that is released when they bump their legs together, start to change color and grow, mate like crazy, and eat like the world is going to end. When this happens, the population explodes. Then the hungry, over-stimulated grasshoppers (now locusts) eat nearly everything present and become nomadic to be able to sustain the mayhem. It can become epic.

The Foaming Grasshopper does not swarm (it would be kinda cool, right?), but after some thoughtful consideration I think I am O.K. with that because the idea of a toxic swarm of locust is beyond terrifying.