17 May 2015

17 May 15 - A Groundhopper Tick

After an unsuccessful walk over Godlingston Heath on the Studland patch, to check out a historical site for Tree Pipits with Steve Morrison, Steve spotted this cute Common Groundhopper on the track. This individual was a bit smaller than a centimetre long, but is more or less fully ground. This is the commonest & more widespread of the three UK Groundhoppers. All three species occur at Studland, so perhaps I will have to spend more time looking for the other two species this year. The Grasshoppers, Bush-crickets & Allies of Dorset book states they can occur in damp, open habitats which includes tramways, woodland rides, old sand & gravel pits, heathland around slumping cliffs and they are also found in drier areas like chalk downland. This individual was on a sandy track across the heath.
Common Groundhopper: They come in a variety of exciting colours providing you like brown with patches of blackish, greenish, reddish & white (according to the habitat): a real Birder's insect
The main features are the pronotum doesn't extend beyond the length of the hind knees & it typically has short wings which do not extend beyond the pronotum. This gives it a short robust appearance. It also has a prominent keel (the area behind the head at the front of the abdomen). The other two species, Cepero's Groundhopper & Slender Groundhopper have a pronotum which extends well beyond the hind knees.
Common Groundhopper: Getting the SX60 camera on the ground & angling the pop out screen made it easier to get this low angle macro shot. The sand grains give an idea of scale. My first attempt at a macro type photo with the SX60 & I was impressed with the result

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