species of the week #45 – rattle grasshopper

The rattle grasshoper used to occur in heathland areas of northern Germany, but also with us in Rhineland-Palatinate, but is extinct here. The rattle grasshopper likes it warm, sunny and short-grassed. For this, the meadows and heaths must be mowed, or even better, occasionally grazed by migratory shepherds. The presence of this grasshopper indicates that the habitat is suitable not only for it, but also for numerous other species such as silver thistle, pasque flower, Apollo butterfly.

Distribution status  Extinct in Rhineland-Palatinate
Remaining occurance Bavaria, Baden-Wuerttembrg
Last sighting in Rhineland-Paltinate 1957
Habitat arid, mostly stony areas; warm dry grassland sites
Threat Loss of rough grasslands, eutrophication

The forewings have the same brown color as the body, the hindwings are bright red except for their tips. They can be easily recognized during the flight, which can easily lead to confusion with the red-winged grasshopper. However, the latter has a broad light cross band on the forewings and less red hindwings.
During flight, males produce a rattling snore with their hind wings, which some describe as a loud snoring sound. Together with the conspicuous red hindwings, the sound serves to scare off predators. The sound is not produced at low temperatures or when repeatedly startled. Females also buzz while sitting.
The species disappears when the turf becomes too matted or the habitat becomes meadow-like in character (e.g., due to mowing). Additionally, the species is threatened by aerial nitrogen inputs and intensive grazing with paddock management and supplemental feeding. Grazing 2-3 times per year is ideal, with attention to early emergence in April/May (depending on weather) to remove nutrients from vegetation early.

Policy Need:
– Preservation of rough grasslands.
– Encourage extensive grazing and transhumance.
– Containment of air pollutants

To the further species of the week

Image: By kOchstudiO, CC BY-SA 3.0 en, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11400925