It looks like this differential grasshopper was either in combat with another grasshopper or escaped a predator. It's missing its right antenna and half of its right front leg. Differential grasshoppers have to watch out for all kinds of predators – birds, bats, snakes, lizards, raccoons, foxes, spiders, mantids, and the list goes on and on. This little guy, whom I encountered this week along the Kaskaskia River east of Carlyle, Ill., was about an inch and a half long. They can grow up to two inches. When I was a kid, I used to catch them along the edge of my grandfather's farm pond, put them onto a fishing hook, and toss them into the pond to catch largemouth bass. Big differential hoppers and plump bull-frog tadpoles were my best bass baits.
T.E. Griggs is a writer, editor and photographer and a retired U.S. Marine.