As a child, catching grasshoppers filled many of my afternoons. I lived in a city.  The house had a sparse backyard and few tall blades of grass yet grasshoppers abound.  Those were the days.

Sadly, last summer, the University of Oklahoma published a study showing that grasshopper populations in a Kansas grassland preserve have declined over 30% during the past two decades.  The report states that nutrient dilution is the cause.   Plants are lacking in nitrogen, phosphorus, and sodium.  Carbon dioxide is linked to this decline.  

Excess carbon dioxide, scrubbed from the atmosphere, is a good thing.  Further, it encourages plant growth.  However, as the plant grows if there isn’t enough nutrition in the soil, each “bite” has less total nutritional value.  Consequently, the grasshoppers that feed on the plants get less benefit and are eating relatively empty calories.  

So for today’s challenge, go and look in at least a couple of places where there is some tall grass.  See if you can find a grasshopper.  

Here are a few more facts to make the challenge more enjoyable:

  • Grasshoppers appeared more than 250 million years ago.  That’s before the dinosaurs.
  • When a grasshopper jumps, its peak acceleration approaches 20G of force.  By comparison, astronauts reach about 3-6Gs upon takeoff and reentry. 
  • They can both fly and jump.  They reach speeds of up to 8 mph when flying and can jump more than 10x their body length.  

Good luck trying to catch one.  Please remember to release it.  We don’t want to reduce their numbers any further.

This challenge is rated moderate given the insects’ relative scarcity.

Sources:

More about the nutrition study – https://phys.org/news/2020-03-reveals-grasshopper-declines-quality-prairie.html

Other grasshopper facts – http://tonsoffacts.com/28-interesting-weird-facts-grasshoppers/

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