Posts tagged ‘catching grasshoppers’

August 30, 2013

Weekend Nature Challenge: Grasshopper and Cricket Hunting

by Melissa Harding
Molly Steinwald Photography (3)Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
– Mary Oliver
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Summer is at its peak now, with fall not far behind. This is the time for grasshoppers and crickets. Just like in the beloved fable, these late summer creatures are singing and playing all day long in the high grasses, enjoying the sun. August and September are the best times to catch them; the trick is to sneak up on your prey very quietly and listen for their song, keeping your eyes open for movement. Of course, they aren’t really singing – rather, they are trying to attract mates and declare their territories. Crickets make sounds by rubbing a row of pegs along the inside of their hind leg against their thickened forewing, causing a vibration. Grasshoppers make sounds far less frequently; they quickly snap their hindwings as they fly, making a crackling sound, which means that you may not hear them until they are already on the move. Follow their sounds and keep your eyes open for these cleverly camouflaged critters; you may be looking right at one and not even know it!
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This weekend, we challenge you and your family to go grasshopper and cricket hunting. Look for them in thick grass or meadows. Use a net or your bare hands to catch them; once you find one, handle it gently and observe it. Note its coloration, the rasps on the legs and its crazy jaws. Feel its hard exoskeleton and its antennae. When you are done, gently place it back where you found it and try to catch another. Try to catch one of each and observe the differences between them.

Take the next few days to explore the grassy areas in your neighborhood and search for grasshoppers and crickets. What did you notice about the insects that your found? Did you find any other cool critters? Tell us in the comments below.

The above photo is copyrighted to Molly Steinwald.

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