Nature Profiles

Grasshoppers & their relatives


Meadow Grasshopper (Chorthippus parallelus)

Female, Hartland Moor NNR, Dorset

The Latin name is a good reminder in how to identify this very common grasshopper, which can exist in a variety of colour forms.  The pronotum is parallel-sided. 

Females and males are similar, but males have long wings and characteristic dark knees.  The dark sides to the abdomen and short wings identify this individual as a female.



Field Grasshopper (Chorthippus brunneus)

Coombs Dale SSSI, Derbyshire

One of Britain's most widespread grasshoppers, this species is usually brown (hence the Latin name), but can be green or pink.  It can be distinguished from the equally common Meadow Grasshopper (see above) by its bent pronotum and very hairy underside (not visible in this photo). 

The Field Grasshopper is rather similar to the rare Heath Grasshopper (see below), from which it differs most obviously in the more extensive black markings on the pronotum (they finish before the back edge in this species as you can see from the photo immediately below, but extend right to the back edge in the Heath Grasshopper, but the photo of C.vagans doesn't show this!).



Heath Grasshopper (Chorthippus vagans)

Hartland Moor NNR, Dorset

This little gem is one of Britain's rarest and most restricted grasshoppers, found only in Dorset and Hampshire on certain heathlands. 

I chanced upon this individual by accident, and only identified it from the photo when I got back home!  Although it resembles more common species in colour and pattern, the Heath Grasshopper is the only species to have a conspicuous bulge on its forewing (see second photo).

Close-up of forewing, showing diagnostic bulge (in centre of photo)



Large Marsh Grasshopper (Stethophyma grossum)

Hartland Moor NNR, Dorset

The largest of Britain's 11 grasshopper species, this rare and attractive animal is a specialist of acidic mires and bogs in Dorset and Hampshire, where it can be locally abundant. 

As with most grasshoppers, the females are larger, sometimes significantly so.




Oak Bush-cricket (Meconema thalassinum)

Garston Wood RSPB Reserve, Dorset

This individual was an unexpected 'guest' in an overnight moth trap! 

Strongly nocturnal, these insects have a reputation for coming to light.  Like other bush crickets, the antennae are huge, being significantly longer than the entire body of the animal.



Long-winged Conehead (Conocephalus discolor)

Hartland Moor NNR, Dorset

The coneheads are two distinctive species of green bush crickets. 

Despite the common name, the Short-winged Conehead can have long wings!  The best way to distinguish the two species is by the presence or lack of dark spurs under the hind legs.  These are only present in C.discolor.  The females are more easily distinguished by the shape of their ovipositors: the Short-winged Conehead has a strongly curved one, and the Long-winged Conehead's is almost straight, as can be seen in this photo.