This is another insect that I found in the Opal Natural area, in the same habitat as the tiger beetles. This wee chap was very cryptic in the dry leaf litter: you would see a movement as it jumped, and it would promptly disappear when it came to earth. It is only because I was already on my knees photographing tiger beetles that I managed to spot this one as it landed in the sand nearby.
In answer to my request for ID, Dan Johnson, Professor of Environmental Science and the Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Grassland Ecosystems at the University of Lethbridge provided the following information:
There are 9 species of grasshoppers that overwinter in active stages and appear early in the spring in Alberta. This one is a fifth-instar “speckled rangeland grasshopper”, Arphia conspersa. After a few more days of sun, it will have red and black wings, and will make a snapping noise when it flies. They are all out flying early in April if the spring has been warm, but in a cool year they fly around May 1. The immature stage can vary in colour from tan to charcoal, and can even be pastel pink or blue. Later in the year, it might be confused with the Carolina grasshopper, but note the notch in the pronotum of that species: http://people.uleth.ca/~dan.johnson/dcar.htm
Also available at his site is a Grasshopper Guide¹, available for download as a pdf.
¹ Johnson, D.L. 2008. Grasshopper identification & control methods to protect crops and the environment. Published by the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Pesticide Risk Reduction Program, Pest Management Centre, Ottawa. 42 pp.
- Need More Opportunities? Learn from a Grasshopper (blogher.com)
- Digital panoramas of rangelands could be rich source of research data (eurekalert.org)