Friday, 25 March 2011

Mini hopper!

The problem with working nights sometimes is that you have to guess a bit at what the weather conditions are going to be like the next day, you could go into work in blistering sunshine, only to be leaving work the following morning in thick fog, it makes choosing your clothing a nightmare! Well in a similar vein, you have to choose prior to leaving for work whether it will be a good night to put the moth trap out.

Last night, before leaving for work, I thought, why not, can't hurt! I came home to a soggy sheet (used as an extra something to attract moths in), a few soggy egg boxes (left outside the traps, for extra places for moths to hide) and one solitary, and very scraggy looking Shoulder Stripe. Not really what I was hoping for.

But on closer inspection it turned out that this wasn't the only critter in my box! No hanging  precariously from the edge of one of the egg boxes was a tiny grass hopper type creature.

This thing was tiny, probably under a centimetre in length, and was not what I expected to find coming to light.

My next step after discoveing the creature was to grab a few photographs and see what I could find out about it (an ID would be useful). So I set about searchimg the net for grass hopper pages (there aren't as many as I might have liked) and posting on a couple of forums I often go to for advice: Back garden moths and Bird Forum to see if anyone there had encountered one.

I was fortunate to get a reply from a gentleman on Birdforum identifying the hopper as a Slender groundhopper Tetrix subulata, he suggested I submit the sighting to The Orthoptera recording scheme who describe it as:

Description: Small grasshopper-like insect with wide ‘shoulders’ and a narrow tapering abdomen hidden beneath an extended pronotum. Wings exceed the tip of the pronotum. The distance between the eyes is greater than in the very similar Cepero’s Groundhopper (greater than 1.5 times the width of an eye).

Slender Groundhopper
I have also submitted the siting to my local wildlife siting group to see what the status of the Groundhopper is in Milton Keynes, so watch out for an update soon.

Clear for much of the night, morning was quite cold, heavy dew in the morning.


  1. Hi Ashley, I'm pleased to be your first follower! I have no doubt an Elephant Hawk will grace your trap in the summer, they are strongly attracted to light. As for Hornet Moth, I have not heard of one at light, but I did catch one in a mist net once!

    I see you have taken all angle pics of your Quaker and'll soon wonder about that when you are getting dozens :)

    I'll keenly follow your exploits over the season...

    Cheers Stewart.

  2. Thanks Stewart, you are probably right about the quaker and Drabs but I caught loads of Hebrew Characters last year, and still find myself taking photos of all angles of them as they are such pretty moths. I guess it stems from being a photographer before being interested in moths, I can take hundreds of photos of the same thing, just to get that one different shot :)