The Alpine grasshopper (Sigaus australis) is New Zealand’s most common alpine grasshopper. It can be found in the southern half of the South Island above the tree line although they prefer tussock grasslands between 1300 and 1700 m.
Like all of New Zealand sub-alpine and alpine grasshoppers S. australis has a 2 or 3 year life cycle. It is a relatively large grasshopper at 26mm and they can survive the cold by freezing solid at any life stage.
The alpine grasshopper is usually olive green, brown, or grey, with light coloured stripes running down each side. This grasshopper is a good jumper but while it does have tiny wings (between 2-4mm) like most of New Zealand’s grasshoppers it is flightless.
Amazingly, grasshoppers can eat half of their body weight in plants every day making them an important native herbivore in alpine ecosystems.
Photos : Inga Booiman, Tara Murray, Wikimedia commons NZ Snowman