Despite its common name, this insect is anything but obscure – it is large, conspicuous and “showy.” Females can reach 2-1/2 inches in length. Males are smaller, sometimes remarkably so. The name “bird” comes from the Obscure Bird Grasshopper’s ability to fly rather long distances and often up into trees, if they are frightened.
This insect is related to the famous Desert Locust, which appears in the news when it occurs in massive swarms in Africa. Obscure Bird Grasshoppers are capable of long distance seasonal migrations, though they are not populous enough to cause mass destruction.
While grasshoppers will generally eat almost anything green, the Obscure Bird Grasshopper seems to favor plants in the citrus family, such as wafer ash and lime trees.
This insect’s habitat is fields and woodlands across most of the eastern and southern United States and into Mexico. Adults are typically found in late Summer and early Fall.
I dig big bugs and it’s always neat to encounter this species when visiting southern Illinois, which so far has been the only place where I have seen them.