Crawling out of Your Skin

I set out on a mission to find a particular wildflower observed at one specific location, and needless to say, I couldn’t find it. But that didn’t ruin my day. It actually turned out to be a very interesting one.

Out of Place

After a couple of years of indulging in nature photography, you learn to look for things that out of place, regardless if you are driving or walking. You’ll begin to know the primary colors of tree bark, leaves, petals, and even grasses, so spotting something different or out of place alerts you to stop in your tracks or press on the brakes.

A bird grasshopper with bright green wings recently shed its exoskeleton.

What got me to stop the car was the difference in the grass’s coloration. It was a grasshopper. I looked at the grasshopper through my lens, and it seemed odd to me. The grasshopper’s wings were lighter green, and seemed shinier. Well, that is because this grasshopper recently molted- removed its exoskeleton.

This clipped video is about 7 minutes long until the grasshopper finally releases from its exoskeleton. You can get some idea of how long it can take to go through this molting process, and it doesn’t seem like an easy task.

What is an exoskeleton?

Because exoskeleton contains the word skeleton, many people may perceive that the exoskeleton consists of bones. But it is actually composited of many layers from a base membrane to procuticle layers and at the surface, a wax layer. The exoskeleton serves as a protective barrier during different stages of their life cycle. For the grasshopper to grow, it must shed its exoskeleton, starting from the head first. Research states grasshoppers will do this five times during their growth cycle until it reaches an adult stage.

Grasshoppers are not the only insect species that will endure a molting process; crabs and spiders have to shed their skin to grow as well.

I guess this could fall into the October theme, being that the grasshopper literally crawled out of its skin and it is kind of creepy to watch. Yikes!

Have fun discovering ‘creepy’ things during your adventures and be safe in your travels.



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