I’m still surprised by what I see in some of the most inhospitable-looking areas on the island. I saw this grasshopper out in the lava fields on the Puna Coast Trail.
A grasshopper (schistocerca nitens) suns itself on the edge of a leaf.
Several weeks ago, when the Big Island had a couple of hurricanes in the vicinity, we were inundated with rain. Tired of staying indoors or slogging through mud, I headed down the road a few miles, to the dry side of the island, in the hopes of finding somewhere I could go for a walk.
I stopped at Lapakahi State Park, which holds the remains of an ancient Hawaii fishing village. It was dry and warm, though the trails there were still slick with moisture and closed to the public.
While I soaked up the warmth, I noticed this grasshopper (Schistocerca nitens I think) on a plant. It was hanging onto the stem and, despite my presence, seemed not in any hurry to move. It took me a while to realize there was something odd about it, but eventually I noticed that it was missing one of its hind legs. It’s not the first grasshopper I’ve seen in this condition and I always wonder how it affects them. The hind legs are the ones that launch them, so if they’re missing one do they ping off to one side? Do they end up going in circles? Or are they able to compensate?
I didn’t find out on this day as the grasshopper remained in roughly the same position the whole time I was there. Eventually I gave up watching and headed back into the gloom.
I always tend to think of animals and birds as being supremely graceful, swooping through the air, leaping from tree to tree, twisting and turning at high speed. So, while I don’t wish them any harm, I get a secret pleasure when I see one of nature’s creatures looking a bit clumsy. I’ve seen turtles bumping into rocks, birds landing with an ungainly stumble, geckos leaping and missing their target.
I saw this grasshopper jumping from one branch to another but, alas, it did not quite stick the landing. Mind you, if I was a grasshopper and tried the same stunt, I’d probably impale myself on that nasty-looking thorn.
A grasshopper casts a shadow on a glass windshield.