Rearing grasshopper nymphs

pannaking22

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Nov 25, 2011
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Anyone have any tips or tricks for rearing grasshopper nymphs? I was in Montana for field work last summer and want to go back next year, however we'll be going early again (mid to late June) and there weren't all that many adult grasshoppers out this early. Nymphs were everywhere, so I want to bring some back and try to rear them to adulthood for research and ID purposes.

I have lots of experience with Romalea guttata, but that has been about it. I'll experiment a bit as well once it warms up here in Illinois and try to at least get a basic protocol figured out.
 

Tenodera

Arachnobaron
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Sep 28, 2011
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First off, you'll want to know what species (or at least genus) you've got, and find out if it has specific food requirements. I offer a variety of foods for hatchling grasshoppers and see what they eat the most of. You'll want a mix of grasses and forbs with unknown species, and plants like clover, dandelion, and romaine lettuce have broad appeal with most generalist feeders. If they're a plains species they'll want the enclosure on the drier side, misted lightly every day or so but never really wet. I've had the most success with them in large containers from the start; screened and planted terraria give a variety of molting surfaces (different angles/thicknesses of stems are good) and help them to spread out. Most grasshoppers get stressed by crowding and other such unnatural situations very easily and it can be tough for them to recover from that.
 

pannaking22

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Thanks for the response! I may not be able to figure out genus since they'll be wild caught, but based on what I was catching last year I should at least be able to ID them to subfamily. It's more diverse than expected up there, but I might be able to make educated guesses at genus. If nothing else, I can read up on the species present there and see if there are any specialists to watch out for. Would you recommend digging up some of the scrubby vegetation there as well? I'm actually planning on bringing a couple of the screened cubes we use for R. guttata, so I'm set on enclosures at least. I would likely only grab large nymphs as well to increase the chance of success. The next thing will be trying to figure out how to transfer them the 22+ hour drive back in case I can't keep the cubes up. I'd probably put them in 32 oz deli cups with lots of ventilation holes and pieces of screen glued inside so they have plenty of surfaces to hold on to.

While talking about diet, I have a related question for you, @Tenodera. I caught a handful of Trimerotrpis saxatilis last year and was keeping them in the lab with the R. guttata to be used for outreach. They were actually doing quite well in a decorated 25 gal. and were feeding and acting normally (minus the mating crepitation flights since there wasn't enough height). I was in feeding everyone and gave the saxatilis some romaine for moisture, along with their usual mix of foods, and the next day I came in and they were all dead. Could there have been something going on with the romaine that caused them to die? I washed it thoroughly like always and there weren't any issues with the R. guttata. I hadn't seen anything like that happen before so it definitely threw me for a loop.
 

pannaking22

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Ratmosphere

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The man who is selling the species I named before says to feed them "bramble". I think it would be tough to find that in the winter time.
 

Tenodera

Arachnobaron
Joined
Sep 28, 2011
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486
Thanks for the response! I may not be able to figure out genus since they'll be wild caught, but based on what I was catching last year I should at least be able to ID them to subfamily. It's more diverse than expected up there, but I might be able to make educated guesses at genus. If nothing else, I can read up on the species present there and see if there are any specialists to watch out for. Would you recommend digging up some of the scrubby vegetation there as well? I'm actually planning on bringing a couple of the screened cubes we use for R. guttata, so I'm set on enclosures at least. I would likely only grab large nymphs as well to increase the chance of success. The next thing will be trying to figure out how to transfer them the 22+ hour drive back in case I can't keep the cubes up. I'd probably put them in 32 oz deli cups with lots of ventilation holes and pieces of screen glued inside so they have plenty of surfaces to hold on to.

While talking about diet, I have a related question for you, @Tenodera. I caught a handful of Trimerotrpis saxatilis last year and was keeping them in the lab with the R. guttata to be used for outreach. They were actually doing quite well in a decorated 25 gal. and were feeding and acting normally (minus the mating crepitation flights since there wasn't enough height). I was in feeding everyone and gave the saxatilis some romaine for moisture, along with their usual mix of foods, and the next day I came in and they were all dead. Could there have been something going on with the romaine that caused them to die? I washed it thoroughly like always and there weren't any issues with the R. guttata. I hadn't seen anything like that happen before so it definitely threw me for a loop.
@pannaking22, I've never heard of anything like that lettuce incident. Do you remember if it looked like they ate from the lettuce at all? That might push it past the possibility of just a coincidence. That's very odd. I haven't kept too many Oedipodines, and when I have I don't think I've ever actually fed them lettuce.

I'd definitely recommend using some of their native vegetation. It'll give a food buffer in case they don't eat the other offerings and might help you figure out their preferences. Not to mention grasshoppers look so good on their natural foliage.

For the transportation, in one trip from Colorado to Iowa I had grasshoppers die when being transported in the car over a great change in elevation. This could be alleviated and even reversed by keeping them in containers with little ventilation and high humidity during the steep segments of the drive. Pay attention for stiff movements and bent limbs that would signal some "altitude-sickness," otherwise your plan seems effective.
 
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