The Nature of Nature

October 9th, 2009

I never realized that grasshoppers exhibit adaptive coloration, at least right here where we see them all the time.  In August and September they are so prolific in the grass that they fly up everywhere bonking into me as I ride along on the tractor.  Birds and other critters prey on the grasshoppers, and even the young boy loves to catch them.  Most of our resident grasshoppers are colored with varying shades of brown and green.  But this particular ‘hopper was sitting on a log I was cutting up, near a wood pile, and didn’t seem to mind the noise or ruckus.


I was surprised at how brown it was, and had not noticed one like this before. There even appear to be differing shades of brown to its color. Is this true crypsis in terms of the grasshopper blending into the woody background? Or is this just a genetic coloration variation of the many resident grasshoppers we have? Or is the answer simply, “Yes.”  I need to appreciate the young one’s inquisititiveness more at certain times… I think that’s genetic too.

Among the many beautiful native and non-native landscape plants we have are a series of grasses.   Ornamental grasses have become very popular in recent years due to their wispy appearance and minimal need for care.  Many of them are fairly drought tolerant as well.  But there is a problem.  Like many other introduced plants and animals over the decades, some may respond differently than expected within the environment and become invasive.  This grass forms beautiful seed heads in the fall, and looks really nice in the landscape.  Unless you didn’t put it there.  


This particular grass popped up along the shoreline of the pond all by itself, with a few others in various places, coming from seed heads of larger ornamentals further away.   I don’t like that… and can’t imagine how these huge grasses could change the landscape.   Can you imagine trying to fish or walk the shoreline of a pond surrounded by six foot high grasses everywhere?  So off with their heads!  I cut them back, and used a small amount of herbicide to try and kill the plants.  Be careful what you plant out there.   To borrow an oft-quoted line from Jurassic Park,  “Nature finds a way.” 

This is the only sun we’ve had for the past two days- a brief red dawn.  We’ve had 36 hours of non-stop rain!  Hope that’s not a sign of winter to come…


5 Responses to “The Nature of Nature”

  1. R. Sherman

    We had the same problem with ornamental grass proliferating in places we didn’t want it. Finally, my wife had enough and dug it all up. Next year, Azaleas!


  2. Ugh…I am a little fearful of the winter to come too…I’ve seen 2 all black wooly worms recently…yikes!

  3. Ed

    Yeah but they make such good photography subjects with a pond in the background!

  4. #3 Son reported snow in western Kansas.

  5. Randall- Wow, live and learn. I think I may follow suit!
    Warren- I can never figure out if it’s lots of black or lots of brown on the wolly worm that means a colder winter!? Or maybe it changes depending upon where you live :)
    Ed- Good point, and thanks for pointing that out!
    Pablo- We just got the pointy end of that colder front… but snow?! Let’s hope that’s a month or two away just yet!

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