Carolina Locust

This week for Flora and Fauna Friday we have a locally named but widespread critter, the Carolina Locust (Dissosteira carolina).

The Carolina Locust is found throughout the continental United States and even reaches into Mexico and Canada. Despite the biblical connotations, today’s Locust is not a swarming species nor is it known to be a regular agricultural pest. The Carolina Locust a good-sized, 1.5 to 2 inch, grasshopper. The species emerges from the ground as a nymph each June. Those nymphs hop themselves along, feeding on grasses and forbs, until they can undergo their last molt and finally spread their wings as full-fledged Locusts. The Carolina Locust is a cryptically colored insect whose color pattern often camouflages them perfectly against their environment. That environment is usually roads. They like dry, dusty habitats and are partial to hanging out on dirt and gravel roads where they seamlessly blend into their surroundings. They come in many shades of grays and browns but, whatever their neutral of choice, they’re always thoroughly speckled and subtly variegated so as to be almost imperceptible when standing still. However, when they’re in motion, they’re hard to ignore. When Carolina Locusts take flight, they reveal an oversized set of black wings fringed in ivory white.  Their deep wing beats and slow flight gives them the impression of a butterfly at first glance.

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