Saturday 31 May 2014

A new species of Grasshopper from Oaxaca State, Mexico.

Grasshoppers (Acrididae) are large Insects related to Crickets and Katydids. They undergo incomplete metamorphosis, with juveniles essentially similar to adults, lacking only wings and sexual characteristics. Grasshopper eggs are laid in ootheca (egg cases) which hold a number of eggs arranged like peas in a pod. The oldest known fossil Grasshoppers date from the Early Jurassic.

In a paper published in the journal Zootaxa on 1 May 2014, Derek Woller of the Department of Biology at the University of Central Florida, Paolo Fontana of Protezione delle piante e biodiversità agroforestale at the Centro Trasferimento Tecnologico at the Fondazione Edmund Mach and Ricardo Mariño-Pérez and Hojun Song, also of the Department of Biology at the University of Central Florida, describe a new species of Grasshopper from the pine-oak forests of the Sierra Madre del Sur Mountain Range in Oaxaca State, Mexico.

The new species is named Liladownsia fraile, where ‘Liladownsia’ honours the Grammy Award-winning Mexican singer-songwriter Ana Lila Downs Sánchez, who performs under the name ‘Lila Downs’, and ‘fraile’ is a Spanish word for monk or friar, a reference to the swollen prozona (front part of the abdomen) which resembles the hood of a monk, and which gets the Grasshopper its local name, ‘Chapulín de Capucho’, the Hooded Grasshopper.

Field photographs of both sexes of Liladownsia fraile from the type locality in Oaxaca, Mexico: (A) Female. (B) Male. Woller et al. (2014).

Liladownsia fraile is a large, robust Grasshopper, with adult males reaching 29.49 mm in length and adult females reaching 41.46 mm. It is slow moving for a Grasshopper, and brightly coloured, with at least two male and one female colour forms.

Two different colour variations in adult male Liladownsia fraile. Woller et al. (2014).

Female Liladownsia fraile. Woller et al. (2014).

Liladownsia fraile was found living around the boundaries of Pine-Oak forests between 1900 and 3000 m above sea level, in a shrubby layer at the edge of the woodland, with acid soils and a temperature range of 10-26°C, and annual precipitation from 350-2000 mm per year. Its preferred host plant is the Pineapple Sage, Salvia elegans. This is a habitat that ranges from Mexico to Guatemala, so the Grasshopper may have a similarly extensive range.

See also…

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