CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Short-horned Grasshopper possibly Atlantic Grasshopper (Paroxya atlantica)
Having a hard time narrowing down a firm identification for this one. This may be Melanoplus sp. which is in the same tribe and according to my “Grasshoppers of Florida” book the two are easily confused with one another.
A check of the usual resources leads me to believe that many of the identifications at Bugguide and INaturalist may be wrong.
Comments/Corrections/Confirmation always appreciated..
Suborder Caelifera – Grasshoppers
Family Acrididae – Short-horned Grasshoppers
Subfamily Melanoplinae – Spur-throated Grasshoppers
DONT 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 dont 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/20150920015140/http://insected.arizona.edu:80/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.)
Learn more about grasshoppers in Florida: https://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00066916/00001