Despite the name, seaside grasshoppers, Trimerotropis maritima, aren’t necessarily beach goers. But they do like sand and open areas with minimal vegetation, sort of like your typical beach.
Seaside grasshoppers are Florida natives that can be found along the state’s beaches, but also considerably inland, like this guy, or girl (more likely), we found along a trail at Cypress Creek South Natural Area, west of Florida’s Turnpike in Jupiter. We’ve seen them in other sandy, scrubby places as well.
In fact, their range within North America includes parts of Arizona and Wisconsin, along with a good chunk of the central and eastern United States. They’re also found in southern Ontario.
They’re medium-sized grasshoppers, ranging between a little more than a half-inch to about an inch-and-seven-tenths, females larger than than the guys. They’re gray to gray-brown, generally, and speckled pretty much everywhere. They do vary in color, however.
Their coloration is key to their habitat choice. In sandy areas they blend right in with their surroundings, making it difficult for a would-be predator to spot them. They’re also capable flyers and strong hoppers if they do get spotted.
Males have colorful wings, and will display them in short flights intended to attract the ladies. They’ll also use their wings to make a soft, rattle-like sound also as a way of getting attention from the opposite sex.
If a guy finds love, he’ll deposit his genetic material along with a bit of protein with his mate that she'll use in producing eggs. She’ll deposit her eggs in the ground at the base of a plant, first coating them with a foam-like substance that hardens and protects the offspring. They’ll winter over, and come spring, a new generation of seaside grasshoppers emerge.
The young nymphs resemble adult seaside grasshoppers minus a few details. They don’t have reproductive organs and they don’t have fully formed wings yet. But as noted above, they can hop if they need to escape some hungry insectivore.
They’ll molt several time before finally turning into full-fledged adults by late summer, about 10 months after they were layed as eggs. They’ll mate and continue to mate until the end of the season. Up north, seaside grasshoppers can’t tolerate the cold, so they’ll die as the seasons change. Down south our way, they might live a short time longer.
Seaside grasshoppers don’t have the voracious appetites or numbers as other grasshoppers species, so the damage they do to vegetation is rather modest.
Other common names for seaside grasshopper include maritime, sand, and citrus-winged grasshoppers and dune locusts. They are members of Acrididae, the short-horned grasshopper family.
There are some 620 species of short-horned grasshoppers in North America and about 8,000 worldwide.