On my trip down to southern Arizona this weekend to visit Karen Fasimpaur, I got a photo of a most unusual multi-colored grasshopper (actually, she spotted it, I just did the photo)

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Alan Levine

I saw more grasshoppers of various sizes, shapes, colors, that weekend, but nothing like this one, which I sarcastically described as

Looks like it was designed for sale in Scottsdale

A comment on the photo from Cobalt123 asked if it was in Arizona, so I did geolocate it (as best I could guess from looking at the map and knowing a bit of landforms).

In an effort to show how I try to learn things, I first took a URL for the flickr image into Google Images search by image (no idea of that URL will work, who the BLEEP is in charge of making unreadable URLs at Google?), but as you can see, what it is really doing is matching the range and distribution of colors rather than the subject

An attempt to match image in google image search

An attempt to match image in google image search

The it was off to regular google, searching on multi colored grasshopper, which got me to an image in Bug Guide that looked promising — and a link from there to Species Dactylotum bicolor – Rainbow Grasshopper

rainbow grasshopper

And just like that I stumble into this tremendous, likely somewhat community sourced reference BugGuide

We are an online community of naturalists who enjoy learning about and sharing our observations of insects, spiders, and other related creatures.

We enjoy the opportunity to instill in others the fascination and appreciation that we share for the intricate lives of these oft-maligned creatures.

Using the best resources we have access to, we are creating a knowledgebase to help each other and the online community.

We summarize our findings in guide pages like the one shown at right.

And look at that, just form the URL I can guess it runs in drupal. I can like drupal (when other people build great resources).

So what about that Rainbow Grasshopper? Chance encounter draws me to do a photograph and share it; a chance comment from someone prompts me to look it up. None of this happens without putting things out in the open. My motive is to increase the potential energy for serendipity- and you maximize that potential on the wide open web, not inside some password guarded zone.

But I want to learn more- insect experts, tell me about this Rainbow Grasshopper!

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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. That was an amazing shot, and I can thoroughly relate to how one comment on a photo can lead to a serendipitous knowledge trip on the i-way…

  2. What a beautiful grasshopper! I am not an entomologist, but I am an amateur naturalist, and I also heart bugs, as you know from my blog post in which I use photographs I took of dragonflies last week to extend a metaphor:

    Earlier in the summer, I also used butterflies metaphorically in a short video digital story:

    Your challenge, should you wish to accept it is to think metaphorically about this wonderful grasshopper who has come to you as a gift–why did he or she enter “your cards”? If the grasshopper was in your dream of the world, how would it be guiding you, speaking to you from your Dreamworld to your Wakingworld?

  3. Nice photo! And a spectacular insect.

    Although I’m an entomologist, sadly I can’t tell you anything more about this creature than you can find on Bugguide (it really is a great site). The reason for this can be found in the incredible diversity of insects, some six million species, many more than all other kinds of animals together. As a result, each entomologist has to specialize. Someone who specializes in bees will know hardly anything about grasshoppers (except of course the basic biology common to all insects). When I get questions about hard-to-identify insects, I just say thank goodness for Bugguide.

  4. i found these insects, all of them with written numbers on their back. The number is 25. It is so amazing. Has anyone seen something like this? the number is not artificially written on the insect I think it occur naturally on the animal.

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