an extremely colourful large grasshopper or locust. This individual is about 45 mm long and still has some growing to do, full adults can reach 70mm. Many members of this family (Pyrogomorphidae) can produce a defensive foamy secretion from there thoracic region which contain strong and poisonous chemicals, nasty deterrent and hence the vivid warning coloration. Pyrgomorphids also possess conical shaped heads with a fastigial furrow with a pair of warty cresents on either side, in this species these are colored black.
In farmhouse garden, bush veld region with hot,dry climate. November is summer time, average temps mid 30C day, down to 18-20 at night. Summer rainfall area, 450mm p.a. between October and March, mostly as erratic thunder showers / storms while evaporation potential is 1.8m p.a.
The Pyrgomorphs are also referred to as "Gaudy Grasshoppers". The warning coloration reflects their poisonous nature. The nymphs consume poisonous plants such as Milkweeds and retain the chemicals which include cardiac glycosids (heart poisons). There are records of dogs dying after eating these grasshoppers. One would have imagined that such a distinctive looking locust/grasshopper would be easily identified but unfortunately this has not proved to be the case. I initially located 2 other photos of this species on the web but neither author had committed to a species ID beyond genus. Progress: we (the PN community) now believe that this is a subadult of the species Dictyophorus spumans, with adult coloration and that the earlier nymph stages are much more black with red trimmings.
Lat: -23.54, Long: 27.11
Spotted on Nov 16, 2011
Submitted on Apr 28, 2012
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