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Koppie foam grasshopper /milkweed locust

Dictyophorus spumans


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.

54 Comments (1–25)

MaryL 10 years ago


Kranti Dhiman
Kranti Dhiman 10 years ago

awesome !

C.Sydes 10 years ago

very beautiful, shame they're so destructive

Bhagya Herath
Bhagya Herath 10 years ago

beautiful !!!

injica 11 years ago

Amazing creature!

Telse 11 years ago

Kewl insect!

Adarsha B S
Adarsha B S 11 years ago

Very beautiful!

JillBlack 11 years ago

Amazing colour

Jacob Gorneau
Jacob Gorneau 11 years ago


YukoChartraw 11 years ago

WOW!!! Uunbelievably colorful!

zapabio 11 years ago

Beautiful !!!!

rubens.luciano 11 years ago

Very nice, excellent picture.

TKBotting 11 years ago

Amazing colours!

Sonia Daponte
Sonia Daponte 12 years ago

Amazing spotting and great pictures !!

BEAUTIFUL!!! Great colors :-) nice shot

MayraSpringmann 12 years ago

Uau! Wonderful! Beautiful colors!

misako 12 years ago


C.Sydes 12 years ago

Thanks bayucca, looks like you've cracked it, but I'm finding it very hard to comprehend the colour variation that appears to exist within this species.

The habitat description does not tie up too well: the local field guide says 'open, often rocky areas with low vegetation, frequently encountered on mountain tops' my area is flat or undulating bushveld. (Koppie = rocky hill)

bayucca 12 years ago

Me fool! I think the black ones might just be the nymphs...

SusanEllison 12 years ago

great find!

bayucca 12 years ago

BTW... Congrats!!!

bayucca 12 years ago

No, you do not have to make the call:
Look at #7 and #8, examples with warning colors and take a look at the author: Piotr Nascrecki, the Master of Hoppers!! My ID is safe...
Being a little bit nasty ;-)... (just IDed in WTB)
Obviously there are quite different colors morphs or they may change the colors depending on environment. THIS you can ask the BAC library, would be interesting...

C.Sydes 12 years ago

@bayucca - having a problem connecting to your link but I can't see a likeness with other images of your suggested species.

I have found another image akin to my spot at

I think my next call must be the Botswana Agricultural College library

room-167 12 years ago

This looks like a exotic version of a yellow jacket in the Bee family. Please do some more research. It is very beautiful!

yoyo 12 years ago

Great color composition ! like it very much

Spotted by

Central District, Botswana

Spotted on Nov 16, 2011
Submitted on Apr 28, 2012

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