16 December 2011

Disappearing Grasshopper - Schizobothrus sp. aff. flavovittatus

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Disappearing Grasshopper - Schizobothrus sp. aff. flavovittatus

The Schizobothrus genus currently has only a single species, but according to Dr D Rentz and Dr R Lewis, both authorities on Australian Orthoptera (Crickets and Grasshoppers), they thought the one above was probably a new species. However its habits are similar to S, flavovittatus, for when disturbed it too will quickly disappear into low grass, which in this case was Sporobolus virginicus (Marine Couch) a common couch type grass of saline coastal inlets, brackish creeks and salt-lakes.

This particular grasshopper was quite common, although very localised within a few metres/yards of a brackish creek near its exit into the sea east of Esperance. They varied in size from 2-3 cm (around 1”) in length and would commonly perch on reeds, but hop to the ground and into the matted Marine Couch, where their coloration made them difficult to locate unless the exact landing area was spotted.

They are obviously permanent residents, as a couple of flightless nymph stages were also seen, and probably more are distributed further up the creek, although dense vegetation makes access on foot impossible. The above photos were taken during March and April, but none were seen during the colder months.