Thursday, July 14, 2011

They were tickled pink: Seven-year-old friends discover pair of rare coloured grasshoppers in fire-devastated nature reserve


Genetic abnormality: The very rare pink grasshopper found on Dersingham Fen by Noah Batteley and Meg Willis

Two little pals are tickled pink after finding two rare grasshoppers while on a ramble.

Noah Battelley and Meg Willis, both seven, spotted the inch-long, hot pink beasts at Dersingham Fen, close to their homes in west Norfolk.

It is just three months since fires tore through the nature reserve, destroying several acres of undergrowth.

Noah said: 'We were looking around for other grasshoppers in the woods near where the fire was. We spotted them then. There were two of them.'

Meg added: 'We kept them because Noah was having a sleepover at my house.

Naturalists in training: Noah Batteley (7) and Meg Willis (7) were out hunting for normal grasshoppers when they made the startling discovery

'I've got a bug hunting kit with a little jar and when Noah's mum came to over to pick Noah up they took one with them.'

Noah's proud mother, Helen, said the youngsters, who both go to Sandringham and West Newton Primary School, were excellent insect hunters.

Mrs Battelley said: 'From when Noah was about five, we started finding things he'd put in his pockets.

'We've found crabs and things like little dead birds.'

Expert Matt Shardlow, of conservation group Buglife, said pink grasshoppers were a "genetic abnormality". 'For some reason you get some which are pink, where they'd normally be green or brown,' he said.

And here's how one should look normally... A Meadow Grasshopper, Chorthippus parallelus

'If you go out looking at grasshoppers a lot, you'd expect to see one or two a year. In terms of percentage, it's a tiny proportion of the number of grasshoppers - less than one per cent.'

A number of different grasshoppers sometimes come in pink versions. 'If it's a pale-ish pink, it's likely to be a meadow grasshopper,' said Mr Shardlow. Other species, like the field grasshopper, quite commonly have pink versions.

'It's part of the natural genetics of these populations but we don't know why.

'We don't know of any evolutionary advantage being pink would give you as a grasshopper.'

source: dailymail

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