Desert Marigold With Pallid Grasshopper Nymphs
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Spring is in full swing here and wildflowers are in bloom. This season is somewhat better than last year’s but not by all that much. Many of us had hoped for a spectacular bloom. We had decent rains over the winter but, unfortunately, not enough and not at the right time to set off the explosion of flowers that we’d hoped for. Still, there are patches here and there that are pretty nice.
Desert Marigold is one of the more reliable bloomers. These tough plants seem to be indifferent to rainfall. They bloom like clockwork every March and April and their flowers — about two inches across — are intense. One can spot one of these plants when in bloom from 100 yards away. The marigolds seem to have a preference for disturbed ground. I see them often growing just off the shoulders of roads and at the edges of paths.
The other day I noticed that one of these plants had a guest, a little Pallid Grasshopper nymph. The insect was well under a half inch in length and was barely visible when I observed the flower.
Pallid Grasshoppers are extremely common in these parts. The adults are about two inches long. Immature stages of the grasshopper resemble the adults except that they are wingless. They start out life tiny but grow rapidly.
I was pretty pleased by the image, but I was startled when I looked closely at it. There’s a second grasshopper nymph in this image, almost certainly another Pallid Grasshopper. It is significantly smaller than the grasshopper in the flower’s center. I didn’t see it when I made this photograph. Magnify the photograph (click on the image) and look at the three o’clock position on the flower. I’d call that a bonus.
Image made with a Canon 5DS-R, 180mm f3.5L Macro Lens, assisted by Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite and stabilized by monopod, M setting, ISO 160, f16 @ 1/160.