CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Obscure Grasshopper (Schistocerca obscura)
DON’T THINK PEST, THINK BIRD FOOD! Nymphs of grasshoppers are an important food source for birds especially fledglings who cannot eat seed.
If you maintain a balanced garden and don’t use pesticides which can kill the beneficial insects, damage should be minimal to ornamentals.
Tachinid flies (Tachinidae family) are parasites of grasshoppers
“Predators: Birds, lizards,mantids, spiders, and rodents eat grasshoppers.” (source: http://web.archive.org/web/19990220162306/http://insected.arizona.edu/ghopperinfo.htm)
Positive “Impact on the Ecosystem:
As herbivores, grasshoppers link plants to the rest of the ecosystem. Frass (droppings) contribute to nutrient turnover by returning nutrients as fertilizer for the plants. They provide food for birds and other arthropods.” (ibid.)
“Obscure grasshopper, Schistocerca obscura (Fabricius). This species belongs to a group of especially strong fliers called “bird” grasshoppers. Its taste for certain valuable ornamental plants such as hibiscus often brings it into conflict with humans.” (Source: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in010)
Learn more about grasshoppers in Florida: entnemdept.ifas.ufl.edu/ghopper/strid.pdf