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Miranda Hodgson

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Grasshoppers in summer and a change in the world of wasps

Posted by Miranda Hodgson on 23 Jul 2010 at 02:17 PM

One of the loveliest experiences of high summer is to stand in the vegetable garden, listening to the chirping of grasshoppers. Just now, at any time of the day, the air is soft and warm, so you never need think about shivering or covering up – that’s all months away - you can just stand there for as long as you want, wallowing in the luxury of standing still outdoors in the UK and not feeling cold, whilst you listen to the grasshoppers. It’s one of those timeless, perfect moments of summer, one that humans must have been enjoying since time began.

The grasshoppers I’ve been hearing are mainly common field grasshoppers (Chorthippus brunneus) and they live amongst the long grass that we leave to grow around the edge of the garden and come to jump amongst the vegetables. They first appeared in the garden in June and we’ll be hearing them for the rest of summer as the males chirp their rivalry songs at one another. Common field grasshoppers eat mostly grass, unlike crickets which will eat almost anything, so we’re not concerned about them and can simply enjoy them.


The common bush cricket - this one isn't a pest and the flower should be fine.


Meanwhile, the wasps are still in residence, but there has been a significant change (compare with the pictures here). When I last looked in through the open shed window, on the 12th of July, the outside of the nest was crawling with wasps busily adding more wood pulp to the outer layer. When I looked again on the 22nd of July, there wasn’t a wasp to be seen engaged in building work, but the nest itself practically vibrated with buzzing from within. What were they doing in there? As there were a number of wasps flying in and out of the gap just beneath the shed roof, my guess is that the workers were busy carrying in food for the larvae. What ought to happen, what wasps are known for, is that they will be searching our vegetable garden for caterpillars and other pests, which will be cut up and fed to the young wasps. I shall keep checking on them. 



 Not a wasp to be seen.



More about grasshoppers and crickets


pushkin said:

Very interesting post, I'm intrigued by the wasps.

Here we get enormous grasshoppers (lubbers) which are so large they hop rather than fly.  And very destructive too.  So I'll have to imagine I'm in your garden listening to your grasshoppers!

on 23 Jul 2010 at 03:19 PM

sue1002 said:

You're a lot braver than me Miranda, to be checking on the wasps nest, I feel a lot safer sitting here reading what's happening :-)

on 23 Jul 2010 at 05:51 PM

EvaInNL said:

I'm with Sue on this one Miranda, I stay well away of wasp nests after an embarassing and painful wasp encounter a long time ago! I like the fact they hunt caterpillars though and am happy to see them go absolutely nuts over the coriander flowers on my allotment. I try and coax them to my hollyhocks but they're not really getting the message.. :o)

By the way, thanks to your excellent article on ladybugs a while ago I recognised the baby ones while pulling out some out of control nasturtiums and very carefully rehoused them to the next bed. Checked on them last night and they're doing well! Will build them a nest today.

The sound of grasshoppers is indeed one of those lovely summery things that you can listen to for hours!

on 24 Jul 2010 at 09:26 AM

Miranda Hodgson said:

Thank you for the lovely comments!

Pushkin, I've heard about those lubber things and how much damage they can do, eating everything in their paths. Come to my garden instead!

Sue and Eva - I did actually go in to the shed for a closer look a week or so ago, before the wasps changed their jobs, and was promptly chased out again. Visitors were clearly very unwelcome!

Good to hear that you've got a good supply of ladybird larvae, Eva. Interesting little creatures, aren't they.

on 24 Jul 2010 at 10:18 AM

asj said:

Miranda - glad you're enjoying your wasps!  Last year before we had our loft insulation upgraded we had to get a "wasp man" in, as the insulation installers refused to go in there until we had the 23 (yes 23) wasp nests removed!!

on 24 Jul 2010 at 03:38 PM

sue1002 said:

You certainly are braver than me Miranda, I would definitely NOT have gone inside the shed but that's because I'm seriously allergic to wasp stings and wouldn't want to take any chances.

23 nests asj - were they all 'live' ones or were some empty from previous years use?

on 24 Jul 2010 at 03:53 PM

Roundelder said:

Why is it when I read your writing Miranda, I hear it in a sort of Pippa Greenwood voice! Keep up the excellent posts.

Oh, and I don't go anywhere near wasps if I don't absolutely have to.

on 25 Jul 2010 at 10:14 AM

Miranda Hodgson said:

23 wasps' nests, that's impressive, asj! I would love to have seen that.

Sue - being allergic to wasp stings, I don't blame you for wanting to stay away from the nests. I'm lucky not to be so can take more risks. I don't want to get stung, obviously, but it's just so interesting to see what the wasps are doing.

Roundelder, I think I'm flattered! My voice is higher than Pippa Greenwood's, though not that different.

on 25 Jul 2010 at 01:04 PM

richardpeeej said:

Lovely post Miranda and very informative about the grasshoppers and crickets-not to mention the wasps.

I am not allergic to wasp stings either Miranda but like you and tghe others would not choose to get bitten by one!

on 25 Jul 2010 at 01:27 PM

Digger said:

That's a splendid wasp nest Miranda, Next door to me my new young neighbour Laura has a massive wasp nest in her bush, she asked me to take a look but i'm not going near it for now.

on 26 Jul 2010 at 08:05 PM

Miranda Hodgson said:

Richard, the only times I've been stung is when I've done something silly, but it's astonishingly painful.

Digger, maybe when the wasps have left you can carefully cut up the nest and have a look inside!

on 27 Jul 2010 at 08:49 AM

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on 01 Jul 2012 at 08:03 PM