July 16, 2012

Here is a great Summer Vacation Science moment from reader Jennifer J:



Two Oklahoma children enjoying their beloved grasshopper, Hopsters. Dad fetched it from the pool and they thought he saved the insect from drowning. Summer is best with jars and bugs.




I was curious about what kind of grasshopper this is. Jennifer also sent this close-up photograph, so I decided to fill out my Summer Vacation Science Observation Log, to see if I could identify the grasshopper. Here is what I wrote on the log:





It was very difficult to identify this insect strictly by doing an image search on the Internet. Too many choices came up, none really looked like this grasshopper, and I realized that it would take too long to do it this way - there are 11,000 known grasshopper species worldwide. 

One thing I find helpful to do when I am stuck like this is to ask myself: "What else do I know?" I decided that the important thing I know is that this grasshopper is found in OKLAHOMA. Surely, that should narrow things down.

I did another Internet search, this time searching for the words "Oklahoma grasshopper." One of the first things that came up on the list was titled: Grasshoppers  of Goodwell and Texhoma,  OK on a website run by a researcher named Kurt Schaefer at Oklahoma Panhandle State University. It lists each local grasshopper species with a link that lets you see a photograph. I clicked on the link next to each grasshopper name until I found one that looks like "Hopsters."

Based on what I found on this website, I have concluded that these children found a WRINKLED GRASSHOPPER.

Isn’t it fun to try to figure out what you are seeing? It is like being a Nature Detective!

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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