Large marsh grasshopper (Stethophyma grossum)

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Large marsh grasshopper
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Large marsh grasshopper fact file

Large marsh grasshopper description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumArthropoda
ClassInsecta
OrderOrthoptera
FamilyAcrididae
GenusStethophyma

This species is the largest grasshopper in Great Britain. It is normally vivid greenish yellow or olive brown in colour, and a purple colour form of the female sometimes occurs. The fore-wings feature a yellow stripe along the lower edge, the hind femora are marked red below and the tibia are marked with black and yellow bands.

Size
Body length (males): 22- 29 mm
Body length (females): 29- 36 mm
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Large marsh grasshopper biology

Eggs are laid in late summer in elongate pods at the base of grasses; the nymphs emerge the following year during late May and early June. There are four nymphal stages before the adult stage is reached at the end of July. In mild weather conditions, adults may live into November. The adults are strong fliers, often covering distances of twenty metres or more. The male song consists of about eight unmistakable 'ticks' produced in 3-4 seconds; the song is produced by flicking a hind tibia against the tips of the flexed forewings. Both females and males produce this sound when alarmed or threatened.

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Large marsh grasshopper range

Distributed locally across Europe (except the extreme south) from northern Spain through the former USSR to Siberia. In Great Britain it is restricted to southern England in the New Forest, Hampshire, and the Dorset heaths and is extremely local in its occurrence. Its status on the Somerset Levels and in Surrey is currently unclear.

You can view distribution information for this species at the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
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Large marsh grasshopper habitat

Found in wet, marshy locations, typically quaking acidic bogs in association with purple moor-grass (Molinia caerulea), bog myrtle (Myrica gale), cross-leaved heath (Erica tetralix) and white-beaked sedge (Rhynchospora alba). It was formerly known from fenland habitat, wet meadows and riverside areas.

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Large marsh grasshopper status

Classified as Vulnerable in Great Britain.

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Large marsh grasshopper threats

Populations of this grasshopper in England have declined dramatically during the past fifty years, and it has been lost from many localities within its former range. This decline is largely due to the widespread drainage of wetlands and extensive peat extraction. Burning of the heathland habitat and excessive heavy grazing are also likely to be responsible for the decline of this species. In Ireland the species still seems to be abundant in western regions.

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Large marsh grasshopper conservation

Most known sites occupied by this species are designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) or National Nature Reserves (NNRs). The UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) has highlighted this species as a priority for conservation. The plan aims to prevent the current population size or range decreasing further, and to re-establish populations in five sites in the historic range of the species before 2010. Work to this end will be assisted by the initiation of a captive breeding programme by Bristol Zoological Gardens and English Nature.

There may be further information about this species available via the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
The UK Biodiversity Action Plan for this species is available at UK BAP.
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Authentication

Information supplied and authenticated by Bryan Pinchen (independent ecologist).

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Glossary

Femora
In insects, the third segment in the leg, the largest segment of the leg in most adult insects. In tetrapods (vertebrates with four limbs) the upper bone of the hind limb.
Nymph
Stage of insect development, similar in appearance to the adult but sexually immature.
Tibia
In insects, the long (often narrow) segment of the leg that attaches to the femora or femur at the end closest to the body. In tetrapods (vertebrates with 4 limbs), the forward facing long bone in the lower hind limb (the shin bone).
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References

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Image credit

Large marsh grasshopper  
Large marsh grasshopper

© David Element

David Element
david.element@ukgateway.net
http://www.david.element.ukgateway.net

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