12 November 2020

Black Cone-headed Grasshopper – Talea Valley

Whilst birding the Talea Valley I came across a Black Cone-headed Grasshopper Poekilocerus bufonius. The Black Cone-headed Grasshopper occurs throughout Saudi Arabia and has a large black body and slow movement and feed on plants in the milkweed family, which produce toxic chemicals. Ingesting these plants make the grasshoppers poisonous and distasteful to predators. When they are attacked, Black Cone-headed Grasshoppers spray a toxic fluid in defense. In Arabic, they are called zagat. Adults are 10 centimeters in length and black or dark-coloured often with yellow spots. Females are substantially larger the males with short wings. As is typical of this order of insects (Orthoptera), the grasshoppers go through incomplete metamorphosis. The young nymphs resemble the adults but have no wings. As they age, they will shed their exoskeletons several times, growing wings until their final moult into a mature adult with fully-developed wings.
Black Cone-headed Grasshopper