Crawlies with Cri: Green bird grasshopper

It’s a bird. It’s a…grasshopper? Meet the green bird grasshopper (Schistocerca shoshone).
We met the green’s cousin – the spotted bird grasshopper – back in 2019. At that time “our” spotted hopper was the only recorded bird grasshopper in Oregon. A lot has changed.
We aren’t exactly suffering a “plague of locusts” by any definition, but there are now 23 sightings of spotted bird grasshoppers in our area (they really like our area!) and four sightings of the vibrant, verdant green bird grasshopper.
Two out of the four green sightings are mine; our pictured pretty from 2021 and a second I found in August 2022.
Our featured green is still a nymph. You can see their “wing buds” just starting. Once those wings are fully formed and the green is full-grown, they’ll be a whopping two inches in length. If you find a bird grasshopper, you know you’ve found something unique.
There are between eight and 10 species of bird grasshoppers in the United States. While they can be found in any of the contiguous states, the vast majority of them are found in the Southeast with a smattering across the southwestern border and up the California coast – and now into southwestern Oregon.
As of today, only the spotted and green have been found in Oregon, but a third species – the gray bird grasshopper – has been found as far north as Humboldt in California, so they may hop on up to our area too.
Bird grasshoppers got that moniker because of their size (no, they don’t eat birds) and their ability to fly great distances. Bird grasshoppers are also graceful flyers, unlike many grasshopper species, making them more “bird-like” and less “hoppy.”
Despite their large size, bird grasshoppers are only an occasional “pest” species, even in the southern areas where they are quite common.
It’s no wonder the green bird grasshopper is moving into Oregon. They’re a strictly riparian species. Typically, they’re found streamside in desert areas, but also favor lush vegetation in agricultural and residential areas.
Green bird grasshoppers like to munch on woody plants. Both of the ones I found were perched on roses. While green bird grasshoppers are excellent flyers, they prefer to stay still when they find a spot they like.
Adults will spend most of the day on their host plant, remaining motionless when not eating. Basically, green bird grasshoppers are all about conserving energy. With their large size, this makes sense. Individuals will disperse to set up little territories, but once in their patch, they hunker down.
Despite their woody plant preference, they’ll eat what is readily available, but will avoid broad-leafed herbaceous plants.
Greens only have one generation per year, with eggs hatching over an extended period in late May or early June. They’re slow to mature and can live as late into the fall as November.
With our warm fall weather, it’s a safe bet that both green and spotted bird grasshoppers will be around through October, so you might be fortunate enough to spot one of Oregon’s newest residents before winter comes.