A Valentine’s Day Suprise, A Pink Grasshopper!

February 18, 2010

Feb2010 100
Creative Commons License photo credit: emills1

Tuesday morning, I came into work, turned on my computer, started to eat my morning snack, and checked my messages. I just about choked and went through the roof when I heard a message from a woman named Kelly McLaughlin, who said that her son Ronnie had found a pink grasshopper in their backyard! I was so excited!! She was so sweet to drive here from Santa Fe, Texas to donate this amazing little creature to the Butterfly Center.

Now I’m sure you’re wondering, what’s so special about a pink grasshopper? Well, have YOU ever seen one? A pink grasshopper should not really exist! It has an unusual genetic mutation known as erythrism. This is when an animal has either too much of one pigment, or not enough of another, causing it to be red or some variation of red such as pink or purple. It can be found in a wide variety of animals, including several types of insects.  There are several theories about why this happens but no one is completely sure. Erythrism has been observed in certain species of katydids, in fact, the Audubon Insectarium in New Orleans has been able to breed pink katydids and put them on display. I have always been so jealous! When I heard this phone message, I actually expected to see a pink katydid and I was shocked that it was actually a grasshopper instead! If everything goes well, I may be able to breed pink grasshoppers for display, how cool would that be?

What did Katy do?
A pink katydid
Creative Commons License photo credit: frankcheez

Since Ronnie found this grasshopper on Valentine’s Day, her name is Val. We have identified Val as a Northern Green Striped Grasshopper (Chortophaga viridifasciata). This species is very common in Texas. They are small, only reaching a little over an inch as adults. They mostly feed on grasses and prefer wet areas. They usually have two forms, green or brown, but occasionally a pink mutant pops up! I’m not sure how rare they really are, but I don’t think anyone in this area has seen one. This is very exciting! Val has a little more growing to do and hopefully in a few weeks she will be ready for display. She will certainly receive some TLC here so we can make sure she makes it to adulthood. So, remember to keep your eyes open for pink bugs. If you find any, we’d love to hear about them! Happy Bug Watching!

Erin M
Authored By Erin M Mills

Erin Mills received her undergraduate degree in Entomology from Texas A&M University in 2004, and after a short tour of the pest control industry, joined HMNS as the Cockrell Butterfly Center's Insect Zoo Manager in 2005. Over the years she expanded the butterfly center's live arthropod collection, developed the ever popular "Bugs on Wheels" outreach program, and continued to establish her role as HMNS's insect expert. In October of 2016, she achieved her long time goal of becoming Director of the Cockrell Butterfly Center. She is constantly striving to improve the butterfly center and how it serves and educates the public about the wonderful and amazing world of insects! As a Board Certified Entomologist, Erin has extensive knowledge of insect identification, ecology, plant relationships, husbandry, really any insect-related topic!

10 responses to “A Valentine’s Day Suprise, A Pink Grasshopper!”

  1. Lisa Thompson Hobbs says:

    Saw the posting about the pink grasshopper from Santa Fe.I grew up there and I saw them a few times growing up . My grandmother always killed them because of the garden. But I know that they were always found during the fall and winter time. They ate the cabbage . I left Santa Fe in 1988 but remember seeing them a year before. The Area was 24th and Ave M
    Lisa Hobbs

  2. Margarita Sims says:

    Why did you not keep its name as Love Bug, the name which the sweet 7 year old who found it gave to the grasshopper? It just seems wrong to change it…

  3. dianna wagner says:

    I thought you would be interested to know I found a pink grasshopper in my yard this morning. After looking online I came across your post with your blog and thought I would let you know.If you would like to see a photo I can send you one. It is very small about 2 weeks old or so. It is also more of a purple pink than a very pink.

    dianna wagner

  4. Erin M. says:

    Margarita, As far as I know, the boy did not name the grasshopper. I was asked by several people what the name was and I just came up with Val. I believe the woman who wrote the article for the Galveston Daily News made up the name “love bug” herself. I was never told by Mrs. McLaughlin or Ronnie that they had named it, in fact, I e-mailed Mrs. McLaughlin about the name I picked and she seemed quite happy about it.

    Dianna, I would love to see the photo of the grasshopper you found. Did you keep it? If so, I’m sure ours would like to have some company! You can e-mail blogadmin@hmns.org with pictures/info. Thanks!

  5. Sarah says:

    Today is April 27, 2010 ….My son has found a pink Katy Did she is so totally cute i have never seen one of these did not know they even exist .He has place her in a plastic jar with loads of grasses and air holes she is not totally grown..How common are these?
    Thank You,
    Sarah Schafer

  6. Erin M. says:

    Hi Sarah!

    The pink katydids are super cool! Luckily, I now have a large population of those as well. It started with one male that was found in Dayton, TX last summer. They are gorgeous! I don’t think they’re as unusual as people think Obviously the vast majority of these katydids are green, but several times a year, people find pink ones, all over the country. If you’re going to keep her, or him, I would find a larger container, such as a small aquarium or critter carrier. They really like to eat romaine lettuce and cheerios! The regular cheerios, not flavored. I’m not sure why, but they ove to eat them!

  7. Hannah says:

    My husband Doug and I caught a pink grasshopper last year in Santa Fe not long after this one and met up with you in a parking lot and handed her over in a little mason jar. Did she ever have any pink babies I wonder?

  8. Erin M. says:

    Yes Hannah, I definitely remember driving out to pick up that grasshopper! For some reason or another, I was not able to successfully mate or get any of them to lay eggs. It would probably take a few tries. I will never forget all of those cute pink grasshoppers from the Spring of 2010! I appreciate the contribution!

  9. My family drove to Brenham, Tx to take pictures in the bluebonnets, when my nephew found a very bright pink grasshopper. We had NEVER heard of such a thing.It was almost neon & so beautiful.I have a pic also.

  10. CosbyArt says:

    Any update on the breeding attempts of the pink grasshopper? Sounds like there are a few more around so hopeful you could get a colony of them to breed.

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