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The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Elegant Grasshopper

Afrikaans name: Stinksprinkaan

Elegant Grasshopper

Photo © Steven Herbert

Zonocerus elegans

The Elegant Grasshopper is an attractive insect that can reach a length of around 5 cm. They are brightly coloured showing various markings of black, yellow, red and blue. Juveniles have a similar colouration to the adults but show more black, yellow and white. Their eyes and antennae are orange.

Normally such bright colouration indicates that the insect is poisonous, and it is probably also true of this species. If squashed they give off a foul-smelling odour. It is interesting to note that one of their favourite foods is the Bitter Apple (Solanum panduriforme) which is toxic. Another favourite food plant is the Milkweed (Asclepias fruticosus).

The Elegant Grasshopper is considered a pest by farmers as it attacks various crops such as soya beans, cotton and groundnuts.

These grasshoppers are not good flyers, and it is thought that this is another indication of their poisonous or bitter taste. They basically have no need to fly.

They are typically found in grassland and other open habitats which, as mentioned above, includes farmlands.

During autumn these grasshoppers lay their eggs communally. The eggs take around 6 months to hatch but, after this slow start, the hatchlings grow to maturity in 75 days.

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References and further reading

Pocket Guide - Insects of South Africa - Author: Mike Picker & Charles Griffiths - Year Published: 2015 - Page: 39

Reader's Digest Illustrated Guide to the Game Parks and Nature Reserves of Southern Africa - 2nd edi - Author: Editor - Alan Duggan - Year Published: 1991 - Page: 400

Wildlife of Southern Africa - Author: Martin Withers and David Hosking - Year Published: 2011 - Page: 260

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