A great egret looks for breakfast at Calamvale Creek

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Scientific stuff

Atractomorpha or vegetable grasshopper or northern grass pyrgimorph

Genus:
Atractomorpha
Superfamily: Acridoidea
Family: Pyrgomorphidae
Suborder: Caelifera
Order: Orthoptera

Identification:

Small, sleek, green insect, about 30 millimetres (one inch) long, with pointed head, two short pink or plum-coloured antennae, and similar coloured stripe on wings towards back. Attractive design, and can be difficult to see in vegetation because it looks like a blade of grass.

Personality:
Quiet, reserved, doesn't like to stand out. Prefers to blend in with the background.

Using our photos

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Ariel's photos

Ariel the Atractomorpha was out looking for breakfast on some juicy leaves when our photographer spotted her.

The photographer said:

“Ariel is a beautiful-looking insect. Atractomorpha insects are not shaped like other grasshoppers — they have conically pointed heads, and look sleek and streamlined — like a blade of grass with legs.

“Ariel moved around quite a bit while I was photographing, mostly sitting across the plant leaf, but occasionally sitting lengthways along the leaf, which made seeing her more difficult. With less light she would have been almost invisible.

“She waited while I took several photos, but when I looked away to change the settings on my camera, she was gone.”

Critters of Calamvale Creek

Ariel the Atractomorpha (vegetable grasshopper)

Atractomorpha

atractomorpha_1 (14K)Good day to you all. I'm Ariel the vegetable grasshopper.

My scientific name is Atractomorpha, which means “attractive shape”. I think I am an attractive shape, because I look quite different from the many other types of grasshoppers and crickets I am related to.

Where do I live?

atractomorpha_2 (10K) I live around the creek in low grasses and on green plants that are the same colour as I am.

Being the same green as the plants I live on is a great advantage. It means insect-eaters such as Norman the cane toad can't see me very easily, and so I won't end up as his lunch.

I can't fly very well, and I don't even jump very well, so camouflage is an important ability for me. There are quite a few of us vegetable grasshoppers around Calamvale Creek, but I'm sure many people go their whole lives without seeing us because we blend in so well with the grasses and plants.

Advantage of not flying well

vegetable_grasshopper_3 (10K)You may think that not being able to fly well or jump strongly is a disadvantage. It's not.

You see, if I were flying around all the time or jumping great distances, I would surely land in a spider's web some time.

But travelling short distances means I am in control of where I will land, and that's why Atractomorphas like me are breeding like rabbits in Brisbane.

Wherever there are grasses and plants the same colour as we are, we will be there.

Are we pests?

vegetable_grasshopper_4 (11K) Some people say we are pests, because we eat their vegetables.

But take a look a me. I'm only as long as match-stick, and not much wider. And my mouth is so small you would have trouble seeing it. How much could I eat!

Some of my relatives who group in large numbers may be a problem to farmers by eating their crops, but we are much smaller than most crickets and grasshoppers, so we couldn't do as much damage as they do even if we tried.

And don't we look attractive? Put up with us if we visit your garden. We're just looking for something to sustain us.

If you look carefully, you may see me in any of the grasses and plants around Calamvale Creek.

— Ariel the Attractive Shape.