Snowhoppers

20150301_140400

My wife and I moved into our new Paradise Valley home last week.  There was a lot of work to be done–cleaning, unpacking–but we also spent some time walking the property.  The house came with a little more than 20 acres, mostly comprised of mixed grasses, shrubs, cactus, and sage brush.  So far, I’ve seen rabbits and Hungarian Partridge living in the fields, and I’ve found tracks from deer, coyotes and a fox.  But I found something else on Saturday’s walk.

At first, I thought a small piece of plant debris had been thrown from my boot, causing the movement I glimpsed with my peripheral vision.  But then I saw it again.  And again.  As I bent close to the ground, I could see grasshoppers…in February!  There were a lot of these miniature hoppers in my fields, jumping on top of the snow and hopping into the straw-colored grass.

There are some species of grasshoppers, known as “juvenile diapausers,”  that overwinter as nymphs, while most species spend the coldest months as eggs.  So maybe that explains why these hoppers were frolicking amidst the snowy patches on a 30 degree day.  But with spring only a few weeks away, I’m choosing to believe this is a sign.  It has me wishing for what’s to come.  Winter will soon be over, and the sweet seasons will arrive.  The Yellowstone River’s wild trout will be eating stoneflies, caddisflies, and mayflies before we know it.  And then it’s hopper season.  Ah, hopper season.

 

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