Friday, September 22, 2006

Surprise in the milkweed

The other night I was shining my flashlight up and down the tropical milkweed (Aesclepia curassavica) just in front of the food stand at the Model-boat Pond. Here's what I was looking for:

I was looking for Monarch Butterfly caterpillars. They feed on milkweeds and I had seen five or six of them chomping away on these very plants the night before. I had photographed the one above that night. Tonight I couldn't find any. I was about to give up my search when I did a double-take. Something was a little out of place on one of the flower stalks.. Here's what I found.

It's a Differential Grasshopper [Melanoplus differentialis], one of the largest and handsomest of our orthopterans. It's easily identified by the black herringbone markings on the upper part [femur] of its hind legs.