A Valentine’s Day Suprise, A Pink Grasshopper!

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!

Did you know?

It’s time for some random factoids!!!

I am the type of person who is always looking to learn something new. Since I work in a museum and have a general thirst for knowledge, this usually happens on a daily basis! Because of this, I have ended up a veritable storehouse of somewhat useless facts. Here, I share a few of my favorites:

Electrons are cobalt blue.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Raphael Goetter

When first born, baby boys are more fragile than baby girls, despite being slightly larger. This is due to the hormone testosterone.

Starting in the 1920s, pink was generally associated with males because its base was red-a firm and masculine color. Blue was associated with girls because of its feminine and dainty qualities. This all changed in the 1940s when societal norms dictated they switch! (So, men, be proud. Wear pink.)

The following equation will be helpful for anyone familiar with the game ‘Flour Tower.’
[Flour + Sweat = Dough down your back]

Regular old shaving cream can strip dye from your hair.

Phone numbers are 7 digits long because that is about the number of things you can hold in your short term memory all at once.

Genghis Khan’s battle strategies are still taught at West Point today.

And finally,
Polydactyly, or extra digits, is a dominant trait in cats!

If these few tidbits haven’t quite sated your thirst for knowledge, come down to the Museum today and drink your fill of fun facts!