Worcestershire Record No. 18 April 2005 pp. 22-23

EGYPTIAN GRASSHOPPER ANACRIDIUM AEGYPTIUM IN DROITWICH

Harry Green

I was in the main Pershore Car Park with BBC Hereford & Worcester in October accosting passers-by with large photographs of owls, testing their ability to identify owls! An interesting exercise most people were good at naming tawny owls and barn owls! During this exercise a chap gave me a large envelope containing two pictures: one of a Lime Hawk Moth and the other of a very large grasshopper. It turned out he was Les Birch and that both insects had been photographed in a garden on the outskirts of Droitwich.

I could not identify the 3 inch long grasshopper so I emailed copies of the pictures to Gary Farmer (County Orthoptera recorder) and Peter Sutton (National recorder) who both identified it as an Egyptian Grasshopper.

The species is found round the Mediterranean and Peter Sutton wrote to say that is was occasionally imported into Britain with vegetables and other plants. He also suggested at I checked the recent Orthopteran reports in British Wildlife. I did, and found the following comments:

2004 One found in Cornwall believed to have come with goods from Turkey British Wildlife 15,3, p209 (Peter Sutton)

2003 Available as reptilian pet food. British Wildlife 15, 1, p57 (Peter Sutton).

2002 Found in Hampshire in a refrigerated lorry carrying pot plants British Wildlife 13, 3, p 208 (John Widgery)

20th August 2004 Devon, residing in a Sidmouth garden for two days. British Wildlife 16, 1, p55 (Peter Sutton).

An internet search found many reference to the species including several examples of journalistic over-excitement, for example

GRASSHOPPER FOUND IN SALAD

An investigation was under way today after a shopper found a live grasshopper in salad she bought from a supermarket chain.

Eleri Nicholas had already eaten half the pre-packed greens from the Tesco store in Barry, south Wales. The Egyptian grasshopper was lurking beneath the lettuce on her dinner plate. Ms Nicholas, 26, said:

"I was all ready to start eating when I saw this thing moving in the salad. All the leaves were just moving.

"Then I saw the insect. It was greyish and at least three inches long.

"It was really disgusting. I was very frightened and I dropped my glass. I was very, very shaken.

"Even now I'm still itching and I can't eat."

A spokeswoman for the Vale of Glamorgan Council said experts, with the help of the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff, identified the bug as an Egyptian grasshopper and she added that the creature was still alive. Egyptian grasshoppers are found on various plants in southern Europe and can sometimes be carried north in vegetable produce. A Tesco spokesman said the store was "very concerned" to hear about the incident and was keeping in contact with environmental officials.

Another report:

... Live grasshopper in salad. Marion Rigg from Manchester, UK, found a three inch long, live Egyptian grasshopper in a salad she had purchased from Tesco

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Many thanks to Les Birch for telling me of the Droitwich record, and to Gary Farmer for the identification. Also Richard du Feu who kindly allowed use of his pictures, which I found on web search.

Figure 2 (above). Egyptian Grasshopper Anacridium aegyptium photographed in Portugal. Picture Richard du Feu

 

Figure 1 Egyptian Grasshopper Anacridium aegyptium in Droitwich Figure 3. Egyptian Grasshopper Anacridium aegyptium showing diagnostic features the striped eyes and the ridge along the pronotum. . Picture Richard du Feu

 
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